Social Distancing Is a Special Kind of Hell for Gen Z
Teens and young adults are cooped up at home to avoid a disease they aren’t convinced will affect them. Here’s how to help them understand and cope.
If you wanted to design a highly effective medieval torture device for teens and young adults, it would look a lot like our new normal. It’s the ultimate in being grounded, because everyone else is grounded too.
It’s difficult for most people to remain at home indefinitely. But being forced to stay home, away from friends and favorite hangouts, is undoubtedly a special kind of hell for most teens and young adults, especially those who have returned home from college and are doing distance learning while having to unexpectedly live with their parents again.
It’s also hard for many in this age group to take the pandemic seriously. Though it’s certainly not true of everyone under age 30, perceived invincibility remains a common characteristic of adolescence and young adulthood. And according to a Swytchback survey of 20,000 teens and young adults (ages 16–30) on March 20, nearly half didn’t see the Covid-19 pandemic as “very serious.” Though the proportion of young adults who consider it very serious increased from 51% to 63% during a second survey April 6, more than a third still don’t grasp the gravity of the situation.
The emphasis on older age as a risk factor for hospitalization or death may also have misled younger people into thinking they’re safer from the disease than they actually are. In the initial March 20 survey, 59% of respondents didn’t know that four in 10 people with Covid-19 ages 20–54 need to be hospitalized. And the percentage who knew that fact barely dropped, to 52%, in the follow-up survey April 6.
Perceived invincibility remains a common characteristic of adolescence and young adulthood.
Helping them understand
If you have young adults in your home, a few things might help drive home the gravity of the current situation while also helping them cope with it. Research suggests that people fare better in quarantine situations when they know…