The following post is part four of a presentation by Mike Shaughnessy analyzing the impact the 2020s will have on youth and youth culture due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Previously we have looked at exhaustion, instability, and loss of trust in authority as some of the effects Covid-19 is having on today’s youth. Now let’s look at another area of impact: isolation. Isolation is one of the most obvious and problematic of the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also been one of the main problems in youth culture over the last 120 years.
In the 1890s, an eighth grade education was enough to move into the workplace. A fourteen-year-old was given young adult responsibilities and became integrated into adult society and culture. Today, most modern youth do not enter the adult workplace until they are somewhere in their twenties. They tend to spend a much longer time in non-adult social environments. Although they are not necessarily isolated, they also are not as assimilated into adult society as their parents and grandparents were at their age. Covid-19 has set back the normal integration process even more.
The isolation of Covid-19 took away almost two years of learning to socialize outside of the family circle. Youth lost key relational environments: school, workplace, sports teams, shopping, restaurants, plays, concerts and other friends’ homes. Adding to their separation, many of those who couldn’t leave home spent many hours of time alone in their rooms. They spent two years in semi-solitary confinement. This isolation especially impacted youth in their late teens. At a time when they would have normally been broadening their relational skills, their social circles actually contracted.
The loss of communal life is the loss of humanizing environments. Most youth cannot learn about life, faith, love, or responsibility in isolation. Unfortunately, isolation has been the Covid-19 way-of-life.
For Discussion: How have your grandchildren been isolated in 2020-2022?
For Application: What are two purposeful activities your grandchildren might enjoy that require them to interact with adults? How could you get them to engage in these activities?
Mike Shaughnessy is the founder of Grandly and lives in Lansing, Michigan.
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