When the social distancing measures were announced in March, thousands of students had to quickly throw their things into suitcases, say goodbye to their university friends, and return to their childhood bedrooms.
All the teenagers who had been getting ready for GCSEs and A-levels were told that their exams were cancelled. They missed out on tearful goodbyes with their friends, end of year proms, trips abroad, festivals and 18th-birthday parties. While it is too soon to know what the impact of the lockdown will be on young people because the coronavirus pandemic is so unprecedented, it has already had a huge effect on their lives, and many feel that they are stuck in limbo.
While the social lives of teenagers are hugely important for them, it is not just that. Many of them are extremely disappointed that they have not been able to sit their exams and pass through and move on to adult life. They don’t get to sit those exams and then enjoy a long summer of fun and freedom. Many of them don’t know what to do right now and without the exams just feel aimless.
Not only do these young people feel at a loss right now but many are also worried that being part of the “COVID generation” will impair their long-term job prospects if they are just handed their grades on a plate rather than earning them.
Those that are still studying for exams next year are also feeling that their teachers are rushing them through their modules and that they are not getting the attention they need through online learning. While there is plenty of help online for study such as a blog by Stephen Troese, online courses and all the information you could ever need, it can be difficult for young people to find the motivation.
For the young people who had already made it to university, there is a different set of challenges. Not only have they had their first, second or third year of university ripped from under their feet, but they are also missing out on their independence and the experience. The students who are only in their first year of uni may have only just been settling in when they had to leave, and this is a time you can never get back.
The effect on young people’s mental health is a huge worry as young people feel stress more acutely than adults and the brain is more susceptible to life disruptions than a fully matured brain.
Writer Jon Savage, author of Teenage: The Creation Of Youth 1875-1945 said: “Every generation has its own task in its own time. When I was a teenager in the 1960s, I was terrified I would die in a nuclear war. The thought that I could die at any time changed the way I looked at the world. There are always terrible events that threaten our future until things change, and the next threat comes along.”
Unfortunately for young people now, Coronavirus is different as they can’t go out to protest against the virus. They can’t do anything, apart from stay at home and obey their parents’ house rules. Coronavirus has put the lives of young people on pause as well as giving them an uncertain future.