At Jersey shore, teenagers say they feel pressure on social media to attend parties

SEA ISLE CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Though it may not be a perfect beach weekend, shore towns are still crowded with young people hoping to reclaim a summer lost to COVID-19.

For many, that's leading to a battle between wanting to socialize with friends and wanting to stay safe.

"The life we live in nowadays is sort of defined by your presence on social media among your friends' groups, even if you don't have that big of a following," said Nick Lupo, from Broomall. "It's like, I got to show everyone what I'm doing."

Many young people Action News spoke with on Sea Isle City's beach said they feel pressure to attend beach parties from pictures they see on social media.

"Definitely social media plays a big factor at our age, and you can just tell when a group of girls walk by that they're going to go somewhere and meet up with other people," said Kathleen Heller, from Collegeville.

"It's hard now cause social media, and it's you know it's very judgmental on there," said Elizabeth Lynn, from Collegeville.

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The conversation comes after a student-athlete from Penns Grove-Carneys Point Regional School District attended a party in Sea Isle City earlier this month with other teenagers, contracting coronavirus and causing the district to cancel the remaining summer sports practices, according to a letter the superintendent sent to parents.

"Their actions do have consequences, and maybe they don't get sick, but maybe they could make somebody else sick," said Brittany Jones, from Southington, Connecticut.

It's a thought crossing some teens' minds.

"I know that I'm a teenager, and not just think about my life, like I know when I grow up I have to look back on bad decisions that I've made," said Lynn.

Some young people Action News spoke with said they would still consider attending a party this summer, but would ask questions beforehand to make safe decisions.

"How many people would be there obviously, if it's outside or inside," said Lauren Paolella, from Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

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Trying to avoid getting hit by a wave of coronavirus, many said it's better just to avoid gatherings.

"We haven't been invited to any this summer which I'm kind of glad about because I know that we'd be peer pressured into going to them," said Lynn.

"I don't think it's a great idea, I think it's very unsafe for all of us to be going out in big groups," said Amelia Masek.

Many teens on the beach who Action News spoke with said they feel pressure from both ends, as they feel peer pressure to attend parties but also pressure from their parents and family members they live with, to not put them at risk. Overall most agreed a 'like' on social media is not worth a life.
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