A new study by The University of Manchester and Liverpool John Moores University has found that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has been an ‘emotional rollercoaster’ for teenagers, which has created many difficult and intense feelings, likewise as bringing some positives.
In May, researchers asked youngsters aged 16-19 to share their lockdown experiences, and over 100 responded. The researchers analysed their accounts so as to grasp what lockdown has been like for this group, what feelings it’s created, and the way they have managed to deal with it.
They found that 2020 has been an emotional rollercoaster for teenagers, as they have experienced intense feelings of change, loss and uncertainty. Many felt they have ignored on important experiences, and others are worrying about their futures.
One of the important findings is how turbulent this year has been for teenagers. Their day-to-day lives have changed substantially, they’re missing out on ‘normal’ teenage experiences, from spending time with friends to traditions like exams and also the last day of college, and there’s been lots of sudden uncertainty about the future.
Some have found it helpful to feel connected to the people around them, though many felt disconnected in plenty of ways, and virtual contact with friends has not been enough. They also found it reassuring to remember that everybody is in this together, though some feel angry and frustrated with the government for their handling of the pandemic.
However, lockdown hasn’t been all bad – in some ways, teenagers have felt normal pressures are removed, and that they have had a rare opportunity for personal growth and development. This might even be a vital warning sign to what proportion we normally ask of teenagers in daily life.
“Our findings show just how challenging this year has been for teenagers,” said principal investigator Dr Ola Demkowicz, Lecturer in Psychology of Education at The University of Manchester. “As schools and universities are set to reopen, we’d like to make sure that mental state and wellbeing is prioritised likewise as learning, ensuring there are opportunities to seek support, re-connect with peers, and ease back to things slowly.”
“It is important to consider what proportion we’ve got asked our youngsters to sacrifice this year, and to form sure we will give them a way of normality and security moving forward, including ensuring re-opening schools goes smoothly and considering initiatives to assist teenagers enter the job market.”
Dr Ola Demkowicz