Navigating Physical Distancing & The Joys (& Pitfalls) of Social Media

As I sit down to write this blog, away from the rest of the household, there is a sinister scratching from the other side of the door. While most of the family has followed my advice to keep to a routine and observe quiet working hours, one amongst us is resistant – my one year old grandson, who is currently thinking about how to work the mechanism of the brass door handle. He is a bringer of both chaos and joy and, as his father says, is a professional botherer. As you will see from the picture his efforts to help around the household are far from constructive!

Everyone in the family is dealing with social isolation in different ways. We followed the advice to have a family meeting (!) and we have scheduled specific evenings for meals and family activities. I am not sure if this will work as there was some dissent (ie bickering) about what to do and when. I fear I may spend the foreseeable future inventing excuses to avoid watching Frozen 2 – and – if we manage to stick to my daughter’s ruthless multi-coloured spreadsheet meal plan, I will be amazed.

I realise that my family, though crowded, has few worries in comparison with many. It was great to hear from some parents in response to last week’s blog. One email, from a parent who is working in the NHS, on the frontline, who may well need to stay away from her family for the duration, made me feel very grateful. There will be many in the Clayesmore community who are helping in difficult circumstances and it felt good to be able to join with the people in our town last Thursday night to give a clap to the NHS.

Another good thing about Thursday evening’s clapping was that it gave us the chance to smile and shout out to our neighbours across the street. It was great to see them, even though at a distance of at least two metres. The World Health Organisation  (WHO) has recently stopped using the term Social Distancing and has changed to Physical Distancing – and I like that. It helps to point up how important it is now to keep in touch with friends and social networks and, possibly, to become socially more connected.

For teenagers, the support of friends means everything. In this extraordinary time, we can  be very grateful for Apps like Snapchat and TikTok which will be enabling freedom of contact and lots of fun. But (yes, here it is), navigating social media friendships will not always be straightforward and it is only too easy to spend too much time alone online. We all know that there is nothing worse than seeing online evidence of everyone else having fun while we sit around feeling sad.Therefore, it is even more essential now for young people to be mindful of screen time and e-safety and to try to be in contact with the widest group of friends possible to make sure that no one needs to feel lonely.

This online safety guide will give a few up to date tips. Personally, I am trying to make sure my screen time, away from work, is about keeping up with old friends and making better friendships with new ones. Only physical distancing for me!