Is Your Child Missing Friends Due to COVID-19? Here Are 5 Ideas for Social Connection and Quarantine Playdates

By: Michael Reiss, PsyD, and Melissa Santos, PhD

Friendships are important for your child’s happiness – and health, too. Social interactions strengthen kids’ immune systems, increase motivation and lower stress.

Unfortunately, lots of children are separated from friends right now due to social distancing, school schedules and shifting parent schedules.

Want ideas to help your child maintain friendships (and cultivate new ones) during the COVID-19 pandemic? Connecticut Children’s pediatric psychologists share some favorites.

1. Set up a virtual meeting or playdate.

While meeting in person can be tricky during COVID-19, there’s always the option of saying hello through Zoom, Skype, Facetime or your favorite video chat platform. While it’s important to have screen time limits, it may be worth “stretching” these to accommodate social connections.

> Related: 23 Ideas for Video Chat Activities

2. Watch a movie or TV show “together.”

Choose an age-appropriate movie or television show and invite a friend and their family virtually. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many streaming services now offer these options – for example, Netflix has a feature for online viewing parties.

> Want expert care from home? Schedule a Video Visit with Connecticut Children’s specialists

 3. Arrange a scavenger hunt in the community.

This may be a way to get some steps in while getting outside! Coordinate with other families in your community to hide items, or try Pokémon Go or geocaching. (If your child and friends are searching at the same time, keep everyone safe from COVID-19 by wearing masks and practicing social distancing.) This one in particular may require some parental creativity – but it’s worth it.

 4. Communicate the “old-fashioned way”: Write a letter.

We’ve all gotten so used to connecting with technology, this one can get missed. But trust us: It’s meaningful for kids to put some words down on paper with the purpose of communicating with a friend. It never gets old waiting for their friend to reply!

 5. Start a pandemic book club.

Curling up with a good book isn’t just safe (and educational!) during quarantine – it can also be a bonding experience. Have your child and their friends pick a book they’re excited about reading, and set up regular video chats for them to share insights, ideas and perspectives.

> Related: How to Encourage Reading for Kids and Teens

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