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😮😨🤩 The term “social distancing” is all over the news, but what does it really mean? Social distancing, also called physical distancing, refers to staying a specific distance away from other people to help prevent illnesses from spreading. The specific distance is determined by health experts and national governments, and social distancing is a recommended medical practice to help “flatten the curve,” or lower the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the world.XResearch source With all the misinformation online, take a few minutes to review how to social distance and learn why it’s so important to help stop COVID-19. If you need help explaining social distancing to children, you can use the information below to help make social distancing easier for kids to understand.
Method 1Method 1 of 2:Social Distancing Basics Download Article
- 1Know that the term "physical distancing" also refers to "social distancing." You may hear the terms "social distancing" and "physical distancing" used a lot. While these terms mean the same thing, the World Health Organization (WHO) actually prefers the term "physical distancing" over "social distancing".XTrustworthy SourceWorld Health OrganizationHealth information and news provided by the World Health OrganizationGo to source The main purpose of this practice is to stay separated, which can lower your risk of spreading or receiving COVID-19. However, for your mental health, it’s still important to stay engaged and connected with your loved ones, even if it’s through a video chat.XResearch source
- 2Stay 6 ft (1.8 m), or your government's recommended distance, away from other people. COVID-19 typically spreads through droplets, like sneezes or coughs, as well as germ-infested surfaces, which are typically found in public spaces. These droplets can travel a pretty long distance through the air, which is why physical distancing is so important.XResearch source Try to put a lot of space between you and the surrounding people.XTrustworthy SourceJohns Hopkins MedicineOfficial resource database of the world-leading Johns Hopkins HospitalGo to source
- Check with your government for the most up-to-date advice on how far to distance from other people.
- In the US, a distance of 6 ft (1.8 m) is advised. For reference, 2 golden retrievers standing back-to-back, a sedan, a dining room table, or a long sofa are all about 6 ft (1.8 m). Pretend 1 of these things is between you and the surrounding people.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- 3Wear a face mask whenever you go out in public. Since COVID-19 typically spreads through coughs and sneezes, it’s best to keep your mouth and nose covered whenever you go outside.XTrustworthy SourceJohns Hopkins MedicineOfficial resource database of the world-leading Johns Hopkins HospitalGo to source Medical masks and can provide decent protection when you’re out and about, and can prevent your own germs from spreading to other people.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Always double-check that your mask is covering both your nose and mouth, or else it won’t be very effective.
- 4Don’t attend parties or big gatherings. Social distancing can be really lonely, and it’s perfectly valid and normal to miss the company of others. Unfortunately, party-goers aren’t practicing proper social distancing guidelines, and there are many opportunities for germs to spread when lots of people are close together. With this in mind, stick to video chats or phone calls when you’re craving some social interaction.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Always follow the specified COVID-19 restrictions provided for your area, like the maximum number of people allowed in a social gathering.XResearch source
- 5Stay away from crowded areas. Going out in public is inevitable, especially when you’re going to pick up groceries and other necessities. If choose to visit a public space, check that they’re practicing safe social distancing measures, so you can stay safe during your visit.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- As a general rule of thumb, stay away from most public spaces unless you absolutely have to go there.
- Do your best to wipe down any surfaces that other people may have touched, and use contactless payment options whenever you can.
- 6Call or video chat with loved ones instead of visiting. Get in touch with a friend or family member and see if they’d like to chat or catch-up. If a phone call isn’t cutting it for you, see if they’d be interested in video chatting. While there’s no real replacement for in-person social gatherings, virtual hang-outs can help you stay connected.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- For instance, you can watch movies with others using "party" programs on popular streaming services.
- There are plenty of multiplayer games you can download to play with other people.
- 7Work from home instead of your usual workplace. Social distancing doesn’t just apply to your grocery runs—it’s an aspect that you should add to every part of your life. If possible, talk to you supervisors and see if working from home is a viable option, so you don’t risk spreading germs to your co-workers.XResearch source
- 8Order delivery instead of eating at restaurants. COVID-19 is exhausting both emotionally and mentally, and there’s no reason for you to cook meals every single day. It’s great to support your local restaurants—just do it safely by ordering delivery through the restaurant or a third-party delivery service.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
Method 2Method 2 of 2:Explaining Social Distancing to Children Download Article
- 1Read educational children’s books to your little ones. Search online for children’s books and videos that offer bite-sized, educational messages about the importance of social distancing. This is a great way to introduce the topic to young ones without making it seem overwhelming.XResearch source
- For instance, "Time to Come In, Bear" is a great children’s story you can share with your own kids.
- You can also use simple analogies to drive the point home. Remind your kids that social distancing is similar to standing back or pulling over when an ambulance or fire truck goes by. While social distancing may be inconvenient, it’s a valuable way to keep other people safe.
- 2Turn social distancing into a game for really little kids. Tell your young children that they’re superheroes and that they can "save" the world by keeping their distance from the surrounding people. Encourage your children to try to dodge and avoid the people they pass on the street. To make the game more engaging, offer points and rewards for your child’s actions.XResearch source
- For instance, you can give your kid a "point" for sneezing into their elbow, or running to avoid someone on the street. Once they have 10 points, they can earn a small prize.
- 3Show your children kid-friendly videos that explain social distancing. There are many videos on the web that help break down what exactly social distancing is to younger viewers. Fun videos can make the topic a lot less overwhelming and may help hit home with your children.XResearch source
- For example, Sesame Street collaborated with CNN to create a fun, informational about COVID-19. You can watch it here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/13/app-news-section/cnn-sesame-street-abcs-of-covid-19-town-hall-june-13-2020-app/index.html.
- This is a great option for both preschoolers and young grade school kids.
- 4Explain social distancing in more detail to older kids. Chances are, your grade school children won’t be as interested in games and stories that explain the basics of social distancing. Without going into any scary details, explain how COVID-19 spreads effortlessly, and how social distancing helps to "flatten the curve" of how many people catch the illness. It may help to show them a graph or other diagram that shows why social distancing is important.XResearch source
- For instance, you can say something like: "COVID-19 is quite like a cold, and it spreads easily from person to person. When we stand apart from other people and keep our distance, we lower the risk of getting sick, as well as spreading the virus to anyone else."