Youth Corner
UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking
Published on May 13, 2020

The Generational Impact of COVID-19

Ulu
UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth, Sweden

According to the United Nations the novel coronavirus has caused a global health crisis unlike any other in the last 75 years, it is a deadly disease that is killing thousands of people daily across the world. We’re amidst a global pandemic that is affecting every aspect of our lives. Businesses are going bankrupt, people are losing their jobs, and levels of fear and stress are rising due to uncertainty surrounding the future. COVID-19 has become a worldwide crisis, but for the youth of today COVID-19 will be a defining moment in our lives and might hold long-term psychological and social effects that will re-shape Generation Z, creating a community shared trauma.

Generation Z is classified as the newest generation and includes those born between the mid 90s to the mid 2010s. Most of the Gen-Z youth are now entering adulthood, many of us are either graduating high school or university and trying to plan out a new path, though due to COVID-19 this has proved to become a much more difficult task. Schools are switching to online classes, but are still finding it difficult to know how to handle graduates and their exams. Unfortunately many students risk not being able to graduate. Youths are also losing their jobs at a higher rate because nearly half of the workers in restaurants, bars and hotels are between the ages of 16-24 and due to less experience young workers are more likely to be let go first. COVID-19 is also taking a toll on the future plans of youth – people are losing their internships and college choices might be limited for many this time around. Countless events are also being cancelled, such as prom and graduation. We’ve been looking forward to many of these celebrations and events that were supposed to celebrate the hardship we’ve all been through and that we finally made it to the finish line.

youth
@TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

 

All these precautions are of course being taken to save lives and ease the workload of doctors and nurses. Even though there is no doubt that all these changes aren’t going to take a toll on our mental health, humans are naturally social beings and that being taken away can make many of us feel lonely and more anxious. For a lot of us going to school or meeting our friends was a sort of escape and a safe place, and because that’s not allowed any more it can cause an increased amount of anxiety, and that especially hits hard for those who don’t live in a safe home environment and for the youths that live alone.

The impact of COVID-19 can range from small to big, and it can be hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the first worldwide crisis Gen-Z kids will have ever experienced. It has highlighted the flaws in our system and the inequalities that make some people thrive more than others. I believe that this global health crisis will change Gen-Z youths, if anything COVID-19 has shown us that we’re all the same and that we don’t have as much control as we think we do. It might make us rethink the things we value, make us understand that the things we put so much energy and time into might not be as important. This disease will be a reminder that things only get better if we work together, and when all of this is over we might have an urge to re-shape the future so that our kids can have it better.