Impact on Middle Schoolers

Impact on Middle Schoolers

Sam Zwick-Lavinksy, staff writer

Quarantine has visibly affected middle schoolers in countless ways– masks, social distancing, and plexiglass desk shields, to name a few. However, according to the “Washington Post,” quarantine may have completely disrupted the “rapid cognitive changes” of early adolescence.
Everyone knows middle school is a difficult three years. Adolescent bodies are developing into adulthood, but so are their brains. Teenage “mood swings” caused by hormones can cause recklessness, irritability, aggression, and depression, writes BBC Science.
Social interaction is also an extremely important part of puberty, but this year, face to face interaction has been limited. Will isolation’s impact on teenage development affect today’s generation of middle schoolers for the rest of their lives?

Jack Srihari, an 8th grader at Bedford, says no. “I think it will temporarily impact us because of the way we learned this year, but I don’t think it will be permanent.” Jack explains that he was able to work through distance learning, but has spoken to many students who say they were unable to work “because they got distracted playing games or something. Many kids only started doing work when they were forced to come back to school.”

However, adolescence is a time in which the teenage brain is constantly vacuuming up information about their world in order to acclimate to adult society. Therefore, once middle schoolers are no longer motivated to learn and are unable to go to school in person, it becomes almost impossible to fulfill the hunger for information that the teenage brain possesses.
In addition, the need for social interaction is heightened during adolescence, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Ms. Kelly Barker, a guidance counselor at Bedford says that many of her students “ felt lonely for most of the pandemic; they really needed the support of their peers.”
She also explains that “the need to meet, make and keep friends is a valuable learning experience and emotional need for adolescents.” Without this available during quarantine, Ms. Barker says many of her students felt alone and even depressed. “This age group is not as equipped as adults with the skills to face all of the stressors and changes brought about by the pandemic.” She says that their loss of normalcy dramatically impacted students already struggling with mental health.

Ms. Barker says that right now she is focusing on validating her students’ feelings and accepting what we cannot control right now.
“Prior to the pandemic our children were able to practice social skills naturally in the school setting and in their extracurricular activities,” she says. “Having been isolated from these environments I do worry about the potential impact on the development of social skills.”