Discord promotional photo
COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way or another, but one of the biggest impacts was on the social life of high school and college students.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, seeing or visiting friends was simply out of the question; and for those individuals with more health-conscious parents, seeing or visiting friends was difficult even after the lockdown restrictions were lifted.
In a November 2020 article, Emma Goldberg, a reporter for the New York Times, wrote about a recent study of over three thousand high school students that found “more than a quarter of those students… did not feel connected to teachers, classmates or their school community.” For high school students whose friend groups are most often also their classmates, this disconnected feeling had a significant impact.
With school going online for the past year and a half, most students used either text-based or video-based social media to try to avoid this disconnectedness, and keep in contact with the friends that school would normally provide daily interactions with. Senior Mak Moore said, “Discord, or any kind of messaging [apps]” were mainly used to keep in touch.
The online environment meant that it was more difficult to talk with people without prior planning, so many students limited their interactions to just a few close friends or one specific group of friends most of the time. “I just picked one group to hang out with more than anybody else,” commented Moore on COVID-19’s effect on existing friendships.
However, once the lockdown restrictions were lifted, many students could hang out with friends during their downtime to make up for the lack of the interactions that school would typically provide, especially if they had their own car. “If I knew their address, I could just go pick a friend up and go somewhere,” said Sarah Peterson (12).
Whether it was online messaging or video chatting during the lockdown or hanging out with a small group of friends afterwards, most students were able to maintain friendships relatively well despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.