Unprecedented Impact of the Pandemic on Teenagers
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on everyone’s lives. It’s like we have been forced to go through multiple crises- emotional, financial, or health- all at once. The last two years have completely changed our way of living and thinking. They have also made us realize how important it is to adapt to new lifestyles. The current generations have never undergone something so impactful that it could influence every person in every facet of life. But today, we will be discussing how teens, in particular, have faced a much harder impact than we think they have. Whether it is their education, mental or physical health, children and teenagers are paying a big price for it all.
Health and Education of General Youth
Instead of going to class and hanging out with friends, children and teenagers have been restricted to a dull life full of screens, isolation, and illness. Teenagers are at a stage where they feel the need to be slightly separated from their parents as they become more invested in their peers. But clearly, the lockdown has turned the tables as ‘socialization’ has become a mere concept that is only possible through social media. In addition, it is scientifically proven that adolescents are more vulnerable to psychological declines than any other age group. As for physical health, young people have shown a rapid increase in illnesses as physical activity has alarmingly declined.
Online classes- they are something that started as a helpful tool in the early stages of quarantine for students and teachers all over the world. But we can’t disagree with the fact that we dread them now. I mean, how can you like sitting in front of a screen for hours, right? As the pandemic has prolonged itself much more than we expected, we have reached the point where we have become desperate for the pandemic to end and things to go back to normal. Online classes affect learning and academics, but they hamper the very balanced and essential process of growing up in school. Children have lost discipline in life. This new way of growing up with technology could be pretty harmful.
Impact on Youth with Disability
Youth with disabilities and their families have been disproportionately impacted compared to everyone else. For example, they may be at a potentially higher risk of contracting the virus. Children and teens with disability in hearing, seeing, or learning have struggled to access public health information about preventive measures. Online learning has replaced their traditional learning systems, and it is hard for them to adapt to such significant changes in lifestyle. While we have gotten the hang of online classes now, can you imagine a person with blindness having to learn that way?
The whole healthcare system has spiraled down during the pandemic. It has made it difficult for people with disabilities to get routine medical care. Many NGOs and other organizations they were getting support from have even diverted their goal to combat the virus. This leaves them in a condition that is worse than before. Besides, the lockdown has made the life of youth with disabilities more socially excluded than before.
Financially Underprivileged Youth
The socioeconomic consequences of the lockdown have left families in a state of intense poverty. Young people suffer from poverty differently because they are likely to face lifelong consequences. Let’s take the example of online classes. Before the pandemic, children and adolescents suffering from poverty had free access to schools. But now, due to virtual learning, they will need to have access to mobile phones and a stable internet connection. In its unavailability, their education has pretty much shut down. Besides this, the problems are endless. They are more susceptible to contracting the virus. A rise in child labor and child abuse rates has also been observed.
Effect on LGBTQ+
LGBTQ youth and their mental health have continued to be a very neglected topic. The COVID-19 measures are at a higher risk for depression, suicide, substance use, and anxiety. They have to be home for extended periods with their families, who occasionally tend to be non-supportive and lose contact with friends, peers, and supportive adults. Some of them have even been kicked out of their own homes. The rate of homelessness among LGBTQ youth has evidently risen in lockdown. Talking about their health, the LGBTQ youth experience higher rates of HIV and cancer. This means they already have weakened immune systems, making them more vulnerable to covid.
All kinds of sporting participation were canceled, greatly altered, or postponed as a response to the increasing transmission of the virus. Isolation can disturb an athlete’s ability to maintain performance levels. Young athletes have significantly been impacted concerning their psycho-social, physical, and career progression considerations. At-home training with a private coach may be a good emergency option but not for extended periods as it is essential to practice with other athletes for skill development. Even as things go any closer to normal, returning to athletic competition like before will take years, and rules and etiquette of competition will likely be forever altered.
Increase in Delinquency
Confinement and restrictive measures, including limited access to education and employment, stress within families, loss of socialization, and poor mental health, are some of the factors that have triggered aggressive behavior and crime among the youth. Initially, at the pandemic, crime rates were actually decreasing because of the immediate change in life. But as time moved on, the lockdown became a source of frustration that triggered delinquency. In addition, a rise in domestic violence and abuse was also seen.
Ignoring the immediate and long-term effects of the pandemic can be dangerous, especially for children and teenagers. It is time that we get used to the new changes and move on with life. Teenagers can cope up with the stress of the pandemic by practicing a productive and upbeat lifestyle. They must communicate honestly and openly about any stress they are facing. Taking care of mind and body by running outside, doing video workouts, or meditating will only help by reducing the risk of covid or any other illness, even mental illnesses. Taking care of the mind and body should be a priority for teenagers and everyone else.