Young people were deprived of essential parts of their youth
8 Jun 2023
“Young people have missed many important transition rites such as graduations, dances, or other celebrations such as festivals and concerts. They felt deprived of essential parts of youth”, says Jakob Trane Ibsen, chief analyst, VIVE, at our filmed webinar, to explain the findings in a new study on the effects of Covid-19 on children and youth in the Nordic.
The webinar Nordic youth – voices on wellbeing was produced in cooperation with NIKK, Nordic information on Gender. It is now available on Nordic Welfare Centre’s Youtube-channel for anyone who missed the event or wants to revisit it. It presents four different studies on the effect of the pandemic on children and youth in the Nordics, with a special focus on the right to involvement. Three of the publications have been launched this spring and the fourth is in the pipeline.
The research presented in the filmed webinar shows that the restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic effected children and youth in several ways, and that they were not consulted on the actions taken.
Successful transition to distance learning
The research found many studies about education during Covid-19. In most of the Nordic region classrooms were moved online at a very short notice. There was quite a successful transition for the Nordic educations systems to distance learning, and it was possible because of previous investments.
– There were concerns about learning, but the tests showed mixed results and we could not see major learning slides, says Jakob Trane Ibsen, chief analyst, VIVE – Danish Center for Social Research.
Home conditions mattered more
Problems with distance education was that it became harder to safeguard the rights of children and young people to a safe environment. The home conditions mattered even more during the pandemic.
– Schooling is not only about learning but about welfare all in all, says Alix Helfer, researcher at Finnish Youth Research Society.
Concentrated better at home
Lack of onsite education has been problematic mostly for university students, a group that was more effected by lockdowns than younger pupils.
But even though the distance learning was negative for many, the impact was positive for some.
– Some were satisfied, because some students and pupils felt that they could concentrate better at home, says Jakob Trane Ibsen.
Leisure activities were heavily impacted during the pandemic. But this is an area with less research compared with education, shown in the report Restricted childhood, interrupted youth: research observations on education, leisure, and participation.
One of the conclusions when looking into these studies is deepening inequalities in learning and access to social and cultural space.
Missed rites of passage
– Young people have missed many important transition rites such as graduations, dances or other celebrations such as festivals and concerts. They felt deprived of essential parts of youth, says Jakob Trane Ibsen.
Many studies report difficulties in children and young people’s access to sports activities, especially young people with disabilities.
– It’s important to make sure that different voices of children and young people are being heard. Although vulnerable groups have been mapped there is still a gap. We need more studies here, says Jakob Trane Ibsen.
The report Children and Young People’s Participation During the Corona Pandemic – Nordic Initiatives that Alix Hefner presented lists five different promising practices to safeguard children and young people’s rights during crises:
- Maintaining normal routines and social connections during crises.
- Creating structures to enhance participation.
- Communicative practices and access to information.
- Extra resources for specific concerns regarding children, youth and families.
- Creating new learning and leisure environments.
Young men, gaming and drinking
Eva Randell presented research that will be published later this year, focusing on young men mental ill-health during the pandemic.
The Nordic study includes knowledge about the consequences of the corona pandemic for young men’s mental health.
– Young men were gaming and drinking more compared to before the pandemic, which is closely linked to masculinity norms, says Eva Randell, PhD in Public Health, Uppsala University for NIKK, Nordic Information on Gender.
Increased gaming was observed in relation to less physical activity.
Anxiety and depression increased
Covid-19 has significantly impaired the mental health.
Anxiety and depression increased during the pandemic. Girls and young women over all reported more anxiety and depression than boys. Teenage boys and young men report higher self-rated health – but show a lack in seeking help.
– We need to reach out more and talk more about mental ill-health, says Eva Randell.
“Decision makers have a duty”
Last but not least were Lisa Sjöblom and Tove Kjellander who presented the report Child and youth participation during crisis – Recommendations for decision makers in the Nordic region, on how the right to participation can be secured during a crisis.
– Participation is a right, it is not optional. Decision makers have a duty to listen and act, says Tove Kjellander, moderator, public speaker and child rights expert.
How to do this is structured as a checklist in the report, where the recommendations are grouped in six categories with establishment of participatory structures being the first.
– Build robust structures before a crisis! Some of the structures are the same that are used in normal times, but we also recommend including procedures for child and youth participation in structures more specific to crisis, says Tove Kjellander.
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