Adolescence is a period during which one is trying to figure oneself out and find a collocation for oneself in the world. This is often achieved through some level of exploration, experimentation, and sometimes transgression and risk-taking. Adolescents start to assess aspects they wish to incorporate into their identity and aspects they prefer to leave out. This developmental stage is also characterized by a sharper separation from parents, caregivers, and family; the peer group becomes the main point of reference. At the end of high school, many adolescents leave the family “nest” to continue this journey of self-discovery. Perhaps, they can define themselves for the first time less against the expectations or in comparison with their parents, siblings, and other family members.
Adolescents require their peers to accomplish their separation-individuation task. The pandemic and its consequences – lockdowns, closures, social distancing, isolations - forced adolescents back into the “nest” and severely limited their contact and socialization with peers. Adolescents had to devise creative ways of being together while being apart, transform “social distancing” into a physical but not social distance, and maintain a sense of community while apart. If we think of the human body as a canvas upon which many of the explorations, discoveries, and conflicts of adolescence play out, adolescents had to find other spaces and avenues on or through which to leave their mark and express themselves, sometimes leading to an overuse of social media, smartphones and the internet.