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Who Wants to Stay in?

The easing of lockdown restrictions is generally anticipated with enthusiasm, but it appears not everyone is happy. Writing in The New York Times, Alex Williams reports on the difficulty some children are experiencing leaving the safety of home coining the phrase ‘generation agoraphobia’.

Early this year we had to frighten our children. We told them of a terrible invisible threat that was so fierce and dangerous that they could not go to school, see their friends, or attend sporting and other activities. If they did venture out, they had to hide behind a mask because they as children could be carrying the monster unawares and become dangerous to others. This especially applied to grandparents who were more at risk and could die.

While the term agoraphobia is catchy, it is inaccurate as it is defined in DSM-V as an intense fear of being in places where escape might be difficult rather than the reluctance to venture out from the place of safety. Psychologist Mary Alford suggests that the problem is as much fueled by the comfort of home and taking the ’path of least resistance’ as by fear. Children have had the opportunity to engage in vivid, engaging on-line worlds and connect to friends through social media as compared to the mask covered, emptied and anxious world of outside. The end of lockdown may herald an escalation of conflict between parents and children, those who want to return to old ways and those who have discovered an easier life.

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