Diario EL PAIS
Teresita Sabat doctor of the British Hospital gives guidelines for the return of children and youngsters to their routines.
In these days the restart of classes for children and adolescents was special, since they do not return since the usual vacations. The physical isolation imposed by COVID-19 pandemic involved changes in routines, schedules, in the way they relate with their peers and families. In each of those, this has had a different impact. The coordinator of the Teen Hospital Polyclinic of the British Hospital, Dr. Teresita Sabat, goes deeper into the subject.
- What are we mainly concerned about physical isolation?
- One of the things that worries the most is the use of screens. Adults are always in the struggle to control the time of screens’ use. This has been forgotten, classes became online for 4 to 6 hours per day, the tasks to be done are also online. Added to these hours are the Internet connection, which they have always used for fun, and also the time spent chatting with friends. Consequently, they are connected to internet as long as they are awake. Internet addiction is a psychiatric illness that, if left untreated at this age, can cause big problems in adult life, like any other addiction.
- How to approach it?
- The use of Internet at this age, without considering compulsory classes, should not exceed 4 hours a day. The excessive use of screens causes addiction, character disorders, which can be shown with aggressiveness, nervousness, sleep disorders, appearance of tics, eating disorders, and total abandonment of physical activity.
- Which could be the alternative activities?
- Face-to-face relationships with peers is essential in the life of a teenager: is the way to learn to read into the feelings of other people, to develop empathy, to express themselves, to be more mature in relation with dialogue by sharing different experiences. Along with the restart of classes we should encourage outdoor activities with friends, while continuing with recommended precautions. Meetings of more than three people in a closed place such as the house are not recommended. They should restart physical activity, preferably not in a team, such as running, cycling, walking, skating, etc.
- How to collaborate from home now that classes have restarted?
- It is an ideal time to return to a routine with the hours of rest. The use of screens after dinner should be avoided as the light and the attention that we must have keep us alert, making it difficult to fall asleep and insomnia. A teenager must sleep 8 hours minimum to fulfill daily obligations.
Regarding food, it is suggested to respect the four meals a day, being breakfast essential to start the day, avoid prolonged fasts, meet healthy intakes during the day and when they are at home, share the family table.
It is the duty of adults to help in the care for the present and future life of our adolescents by suggesting the way to follow. Habits are acquired at home and setting limits and rules is a demonstration of love.