The pandemic has hurt our social skills

The pandemic may be adversely affecting our social skills.  Many people have all experience social isolation to a degree.

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The pandemic may be adversely affecting our social skills. Many people have all experience social isolation to a degree.

The coronavirus pandemic has left an indelible mark on the social skills of today’s teenagers. The way they live and interact with others will constantly be a reminder of what happened to them during this pandemic, from increased social anxiety to a critical year of teenage development spent at home, students have been forced to adapt to all of the challenges that are being sent their way — the major one being online school.

One of the ways that teachers hope to engage their classes is through breakout rooms. There are good intentions behind using this Zoom feature. Teachers hope that students will use the opportunity to discuss ideas and assignments with their peers. Now especially, teachers want to help connect students and allow them to feel safe and comfortable. This is admirable. Their objectives are to make online school seem as normal as possible.

But as teachers might try to recreate a normal classroom environment through Zoom, the platform simply does not allow for it. Being at home staring at a computer is too large a bridge to cross. In fact, the attempt that teachers make to try and make their students communicate by sending them to breakout rooms, emulating small in-class groups, exacerbates the situation for students. Often when students get sent to breakout rooms, the rooms are silent as there is no facilitating presence.
“I hate breakout rooms because everyone just sits in silence and awkwardness until the teachers call them back into the main room,” junior Veronika Lawson said.

WJ is one of the largest schools in MCPS. This means that students get to have different classmates in all of their classes, making it easier to have more friends.

While there is a difference between an acquaintance in class and a close friend, those relationships are still valuable. And they’ve been damaged by our year at home.

“ I have lost contact with some people I used to have classes with at school because I do not ever reach out or even see them. I am nervous to reach out because I do not ever see them and it would just be awkward,” junior Sinead Longsworth said.

School has never always been solely about academics, the social activities that it provides are unlimited. Whenever at school, students are able to freely speak to each other and even develop new friendships. Even when in class, part of the school experience is whispering to one another things while the teacher is speaking, as rude as it may be.

“All we do in online school is listen to our teacher teach the lesson for one hour and then we get thrown more time to spend staring at the computer for homework,” Longsworth said.