More than a third of young people feel their life is spiralling out of control following the pandemic, according to findings released to the Guardian ahead of a nationwide campaign that highlights the impact of years of restrictions on the younger generation. Here’s an excerpt from the newspaper’s report – though it being the Guardian, it’s always “Covid” or “the pandemic” that is to blame rather than lockdowns or restrictions.
The Prince’s Trust Class of Covid research also found that more than 60% of 16-25-year-olds said they were scared about their generation’s future, having lived through a pandemic only to face a cost-of-living crisis. One in three think their job prospects will never recover from the pandemic…
There is also evidence of widespread “retarded development” among young people as a result of missing developmental milestones during the pandemic, according to findings from the Savanta State of the Youth Nation report.
The report found that almost a quarter of 16-19-year-olds missed out on having their first kiss because of Covid. For those aged 20 to 25, the figure was was 17%.
A significant number also missed out on starting their first romantic relationship, with one in five of those aged 16 to 19 and 15% of those aged 20 to 25 not having a relationship when compared with the experiences of people of the same age before the pandemic.
The research by Savanta, a youth research specialist that runs the country’s largest youth research panel, has asked more than 1,000 young people the same set of questions for the past seven years…
Almost 60% of young people who lived alone during the pandemic told researchers they now lacked the confidence to make up their own minds, compared with 40% before the pandemic.
For those who lived with their parents during the pandemic, the dip in confidence was significantly less marked, with 47% saying they could make up their own minds, compared with 52% before the pandemic.
The report also found that young people who experienced disruptions in starting work or who had to work online were confused about what to expect from the world of work. Before the pandemic, 68% of young people felt work was what they expected. Post-pandemic, the figure has fallen to 49%.
The research also shows young people are less confident about performing tasks at work. The proportion of those who feel able to focus on one task for a sustained period fell from 55% pre-pandemic to 39% post-pandemic.
Having the confidence to have conversations with management is another area where young people struggle, with 21% feeling able to talk to senior people at work compared with 37% before the pandemic.
The newspaper has also run a feature headed “‘We gave up so much’: how Covid changed young people’s lives” with a number of awful stories of lost youth, including this one from 20 year-old Eoin O’Loughlin, who moved from Dublin to Dundee during the pandemic to study at the Scottish School for Contemporary Dance.
I think my generation gave up a lot during the pandemic for older people because it hit at such a key, developmental time for us. We were happy to do it at the time but problems have come since because the government hasn’t acknowledged what we sacrificed. Some recognition and some recompense would help, in terms of support for the issues – around careers, education, mental health, physical health – that my generation suffered and still suffers as a direct result of pandemic policies introduced to protect the older generation.
The sad thing is that we gave so much up because we had a sense of community. But because there’s been no recognition of what we gave up or any attempt to recompense us, I think that sense of community has been burnt out of us. I’m not sure that my generation would be as happy or willing to sacrifice ourselves for other people a second time. I think we all feel our goodwill was taken advantage of.
The pandemic was dreadful for me. It stunted me at the exact moment I was ready to burst out creatively and socially, and start exploring and making my mark on the world. The pandemic meant that I had to adapt from being a child to an adult with no transition period – I missed my secondary school exams and graduation, along with my 18th and 19th birthdays. I then missed my first year of college in Dundee – and doing a dance degree at home, in front of a laptop screen is no fun at all.
I feel I’ve lost my younger self in the pandemic. I’ve lost that youthful exuberance and joyfulness I once had. I feel like an old man: even though lockdown is over, I just want to stay in now – read a book and drink some tea.