How many times has it been said that young people today are not resilient? Snowflake generation, entitled, whatever you choose to call it, the underlying sentiment is that they expect an easy life and are not well equipped to cope with curve balls that life will inevitably throw at them. I think much of that is a generational thing. Advances in technology and rising standards of living means every generation feels they had it tougher.
But the arrival of social media really has had a massive impact on how young people today live. They are exposed to everything and every place that their friends and peers experience, leading to ‘FOMO’, fear of missing out which really is a kind of opposite to gratitude, mindfulness and meditation which teaches us to live in the moment and appreciate what we have. I am a huge fan of social media and believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives, but like everything at its best in moderation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced change on us all that we could never have imagined. And I think teenagers and young adults must be feeling it more than anyone. Their whole worlds have been turned upside down. They are used to school, activities, hanging out with friends and a little bit of time with family. Now all they have is time with family! Yes, they have social media, (thankfully!) to keep in touch but screen time is not the same as proper face to face chats or classroom teaching. It can be effective in terms of communication, but it doesn’t cover the emotional value of just being together.
On top of this many kids are dealing with exams looming but every day hearing mixed messages about whether they will even take place. How demotivating is that? All students have to find a discipline to attend classes and turn in work that in many cases is probably optional. Exercise is reduced to walks near home alone or with family and maybe a kickaround in the garden. Even going to the shop is off limits as most houses at this stage have a ‘designated shopper’ and it’s probably one of the parents. There may be parents working from home, so space is at a premium or parents who have lost jobs and dependant on social welfare for the first time.
I really believe this crisis will breed resilience in young people. Leo spoke and they have listened, and they continue to listen. They must make changes and sacrifices for the greater good. There are new rules which have to be abided by. They must find and adapt to new ways of studying or working. They have to create new routines to their day. And all of this for an indefinite time period. There aren’t any answers. For once, so called ‘helicopter parenting’ can’t happen and we can’t fix this problem for them.
From what I see and hear, they are coping really well with all of this. Adjusting to their new normal. And I think they are to be commended. One thing is sure, this will pass. They will once again enjoy the freedom of all that life has to offer but I expect with a much greater appreciation and having survived a crisis like we have not seen in over one hundred years, will be a much more resilient bunch!