Stress and loneliness: young people in the pandemic

"You'll get square eyes if you watch too much television!" Anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s will have heard this warning from their parents or other well-meaning adults. But what about young people today, who due to contact restrictions, home schooling and the current lack of other options are spending most of their time looking at screens? Commentators are concerned.

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Avvenire (IT) /

Fear behind aggressive behaviour

Teenagers are among those worst affected by the consequences of the pandemic, observes Avvenire:

“Studies in various countries show that almost one in three adolescents experienced moderate to severe stress and anxiety, negative moods including depression and feelings of abandonment, as well as psychosomatic disorders during the first lockdown. Various analyses also report an increase in aggressive, confrontational and assualtive behaviour. Many factors contribute to this. On the individual level there are the restrictions on interaction with peers both inside and outside school, on physical activity, on the use of open spaces, and the experience of competing with the outside world. On top of that is the atmosphere within families, which in many cases has deteriorated since March 2020.”

The Times (GB) /

Life has shrunk to the size of a screen

The Times is concerned that young people are living almost all of their lives online:

“Forcing children to spend hours each day in front of a laptop risks creating an isolated, lonely and self-obsessed generation. ... All children need friends, classmates and real-life interactions. Reopening schools must be a priority. When lockdown finally ends, we need to encourage all children out of the virtual world and back into reality. We will not achieve this through scaring them about internet dangers. Instead, we need to show them that even the most mundane parts of everyday life are more packed with potential and interest than a life lived online can ever hope to be.”

Azonnali (HU) /

Cancel school leaving exams

Digital learning does not adequately prepare pupils for final exams, argues secondary school graduate Dániel Gyengein in Azonnali:

“However many possibilities digital tools offer us and however empathic the teachers, fully adapting to this special situation seems to me to be an impossible mission. Psychologically, digital education has shaken me to the core. ... It would have disastrous consequences if we had to struggle through conventional school leaving exams using only digital education. ... As a high school graduate, I think the government should cancel the exams in the spring or postpone them until pupils can prepare for them safely.”