Prolonged coronavirus isolation may be damaging teenagers’ social growth, Jennifer Siebel Newsom warned Wednesday – even as her husband, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, ordered more restrictions to fight infections.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, teenagers are increasing their social media and video game use to stay in touch with friends, resulting in “tremendous loss due to school closure and social isolation, a new report from the California Partners Project, which Siebel Newsom co-founded, and the Child Mind Institute, found.
“We see this report as a call to action for tech manufacturers,” Siebel Newsom said in a joint statement with Lisa Ling, a journalist who is on the California Partners Project’s board. “And we believe California has not just an opportunity, but a moral obligation, to lead the nation on these issues.”
The document was based on interviews with 46 California teens between 14 and 17 in suburban and urban communities.
“We’re outraged that California’s families find themselves in this position when there are still so many unanswered questions about the risks technology may pose to kids’ brain health and bodies,” Siebel Newsom and Ling wrote in their introduction to the report.
Yet on Monday, Gov. Newsom’s office announced the state was “pulling an emergency brake” on its coronavirus reopening plan amid a sharp rise in positive cases around the state.
“California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet – faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer,” he said in a statement. “The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes... Now is the time to do all we can – government at all levels and Californians across the state – to flatten the curve again as we have done before.”
Gov. Newsom, who ordered a number of coronavirus restrictions in an effort to slow the virus’ spread, also has appeared to publicly violate his own recommendations.
He popped up at a birthday party at a ritzy restaurant earlier this month after urging Golden State residents to gather only with members of their immediate household. He and others in attendance also were photographed without masks -- even after his office advised people to put masks back on between bites in restaurant settings.
He has since apologized, saying it was a mistake and that he should have left the event.
“I need to preach and practice, not just preach,” he said Monday.
Separately, Newsom has called on residents to wear masks in public -- arguing that compliance with his mask mandate will help keep businesses open and get the economy moving once again.
Fox News' Madeline Farber and Evie Fordham contributed to this report.