Covid Lockdowns Were Hard On Everyone, But 16-25 Year Olds Are Still Paying The Heaviest Price

A new study from The National Trust looked at how Covid lockdowns impacted young people and the results showed impacts on every area of their lives.

It’s now been four years since the first lockdown. It’s a deeply poignant time to look back on. Nobody had experienced anything quite like it. We didn’t know what Covid-19 really was or what the future held for us.

We were told to stay at home, non-essential businesses had to close and we were permitted to go out for essential exercise once a day. Looking back, it still feels surreal.

Our efforts protected vulnerable people and limited the spread of this new infection throughout our communities but all of these years on, we’re still feeling the ripples of that first year throughout our homes and workplaces.

However, according to new research from the National Trust, the impacts of lockdown hit one generation hardest.

How lockdown impacted young people’s education

It’s difficult enough to get to grips with entering adulthood. The world of endless bills, higher education or workplace demands is an incredible shift from childhood and teen years.

Then, throw an unprecedented lockdown with the restrictions that we faced into the mix, it’s easy to imagine just how distressed and confused the younger generation were in 2020.

This year the National Trust surveyed 16-25 year olds to learn more about how impacted this generation felt by the national lockdowns and how they feel looking back on those years.

53% of the respondents agreed that their generation was affected the most by lockdown, with nearly half (49%) believing they are worse off than their parents’ generation when it comes to their education.

With schools closing during lockdown and shifting to home schooling, it makes sense that education took a hard hit during this time. Home schooling, of course, was not the alternative education that some parents opt for, but instead a necessity in a time of worldwide panic.

One parent said to the BBC at the time: “It is not that I don’t think I am capable or that we do not have access to materials, but I cannot do two jobs at once - I can either attempt to support my seven-year-old in doing some schoolwork or try to do my own work and keep my job.”

She also added that the impacts of this took a hit on her bond with her son: “Our relationship has been badly damaged by the struggle over schoolwork, and to very little end because if anything, he seems to have gone backwards academically, despite all the lengths the school has gone to to provide work.”

This correlated with the National Trust’s findings that those at school during the Covid-19 lockdown are more likely to cite gaps in their education as a negative impact of the pandemic (58%) than those at University (37%).

Lockdown also shaped hobbies and recreational activities for young people

The results of the survey weren’t all bad, though. While many of us look back on that age as a haze of drinking and clubbing, young people were able to forge hobbies with the time and space that they had during lockdown.

According to the survey results, 61% of young people engaged in new hobbies or interests during the lockdown, with a majority (66%) continuing these activities post-lockdown.

In fact, the survey also found that young people think lockdown changed them for the better (44%), rather than the worse (30%).

With lockdown occurring during such a formative time in young people’s lives, it’s something of a relief that joy and self-improvement were still achieved by young people.

As for the future? Well, nearly half (47%) of young people report being more sure about what they want their future to look like, while 39% are less sure.

This research was conducted to support the National Trust’s Time + Space Award for 16 to 25 year-olds, inspired by Sir Isaac Newton’s incredible discoveries during his own lockdown period.

Four winners will be given time, space, and resources to the equivalent value of £5K, to explore big ideas they may have also had in lockdown, across four categories: science, art and culture, society and nature and climate. Entries will be judged by an incredible panel, including zoologist and wildlife TV presenter Megan McCubbin and social and environmental activist, Tayshan Hayden-Smith.

The kids are alright, we hope.