What’s it Like to Be a Teenager During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic?

How Teenagers have been impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic and how they have made powerful differences in our world today.

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John G Mabanglo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Christine Benites, staff writer

2020 has been a year full of many eventful experiences, to say the least. This year has consisted of a worldwide pandemic, movements for social justice, and the presidential election, on top of the everyday struggles of being a teenager. 

 

The Pandemic and High School:

Teenagers in 2020 have had to adapt their entire lives once the COVID-19 pandemic struck and we had to quarantine for months. It was a difficult time for everyone, but teenagers and high school students specifically faced the challenges of having to learn virtually; while juniors and seniors also had to start the process of SAT/ACT test taking and applying to college. 

On March 13, 2019 New Providence High School students were struck with the news that we would have 2 weeks of virtual school. Many of the students were excited because this time of year is very stressful for many students in the second/third marking period, and everyone needed a break from school. The former principal, Mrs. Zirpoli, gathered each grade in the auditorium to announce the plan for virtual school that was supposed to last only about 2 weeks. It was the first time we were introduced to the “social distancing” rule and maintaining 6 feet apart, which now seems normal. This day was also the last time were were ever in school without masks. 

Students across the country and the world spent 4 months having to adapt to virtual learning and a school environment at home. It was a very difficult time because as students, we didn’t know what to expect, and teachers also had to learn how to teach over Zoom. Students lost relationships with teachers by not being able to interact with teacher or classmates because of this style of learning and many people found it difficult to find motivation to do work. The lack of communication made it difficult to understand the information being taught, along with not really having a schedule. This has drastically changed the way students are now learning, especially in high school.  It has affected students’ work ethic because many high school students fell into the cycle of treating the school work like it was optional. Additionally, school athletes struggled with the spring sports seasons being cancelled and seniors not being able to play for the last time. Luckily, many schools have allowed 2020 fall sports to resume with restrictions  

Due to the pandemic and being under quarantine for many months, colleges have changed many aspects of their application process. Since many teenagers were unable to take the SAT or ACT, a lot of schools have changed their policy to being test-optional when submitting college applications. This was a huge relief for many rising juniors and seniors who were starting to apply to college. 

 

Social Media Usage as Teenagers:

Social media has become a huge part of our lives. Teenagers basically live on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok. Though, this has its pros and cons. On an app like Instagram, we are able to connect with each other more and share/post pictures that anyone can see. As fun as this can be, cyber bullying has become a big issue in our world today because unless you are a private account, almost anyone and everyone can see what you post and comment on it. This form of bullying is unfortunately more common than maybe expected with ⅕  of all bullying occurring over social media. 

Additionally, as teenagers we are very influenced by what we see on our social media and as we explore pages. Many young teenagers have succumbed to society’s beauty standards which has a big impact on how we see ourselves. For a lot of teenage girls, they are given more opportunities to compare themselves to other teenagers, influencers, and celebrities who present unrealistic ideals of beauty. It harms our mental health a lot more than we think. 

However, social media has also provided huge opportunities for young teenagers to start small businesses and express what they are passionate for. Especially in the months everyone was in quarantine, many teenagers began selling clothes, creating small clothing or jewelry brands. Social Media allows you to connect with many people and many more job opportunities are being created for those who are passionate about social media and advertising for example. 

Tiktok is another app that since 2018 has been a huge success. It is an app that allows anyone who has an account to make a 15-60 second short video clip of anything you wish and share on your page. Some teenagers have become celebrities through this app. For instance, Charli D’amelio was a sophomore in high school in Connecticut in 2019. Like almost every other teenager, she began posting a few dancing videos of Tiktok, she became viral and now has 98 Million followers on the app and has worked with celebrities like JLo. Charli is just one example of how big an impact social media can have on teenager’s lives in such a short amount of time. 

Social Media has had such a big impact on our lives today in both positive and negative ways, especially since throughout quarantine, it was our best form of communication. Though, it has more importantly developed into a form that we can express ourselves and opinions. Many people have used social media platforms as a place to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, mental health as a priority, and teens opinions on the presidential election. 

 

Black Lives Matter Movement and the 2020 Election:

Many teenagers took this time in quarantine to find what they were very passionate about and express their need for people in the United States to stand up for the social injustices in our world today. 

Many teenagers took a stand in the Black Lives Matter movement by creating petitions, donating to organizations, contacting government officials to express their opinions, and organizing protests. These actions showed how much teenagers value equal rights to all people and how big of an impact what we choose to support has on our country and the world. 

How the President and other government officials responded differently to adjusting all American’s lives to the pandemic greatly affected how Americans would vote in the upcoming election. 

Teenagers, influencers, and celebrities enforced on all social media platforms how important it is to vote, especially in the 2020 election because of the coronavirus pandemic. Since teenagers can vote at 18 in the U.S., many who were given the opportunity voted because they felt who they voted for would handle the struggles of the pandemic more adequately. 

The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout in a century with Joe Biden breaking records with the most votes. This goes to show how much of an impact even teenagers have on expressing their political values and enforcing voting this year especially. 

 

 Socialization and Mental Health in the Pandemic:

The Pandemic also changed the way us teenagers now interact with each other in 2020. Teenagers weren’t allowed to see their friends for months and had to socialize over the phone because of the fear of the coronavirus being contacted. 

There was limited freedom and many people found the pandemic to have a huge toll on their mental health. The uncertainty about how long we would be stuck in quarantine along with the stresses of high school classes increased anxiety amongst many students. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. found it much more difficult to function with being stuck inside one’s home for months at a time. 

Though, the pandemic brought out a lot of creativity from people trying to stay happy and positive while being stuck in quarantine. Many teenagers spent more time outdoors and with their immediate families, creating a deeper bond. Further into the quarantine, teenagers spent their free time on socially distant walks with their friends and birthday caravans where teens would drive by and around the block to celebrate the birthday of one of their friends. 

The Pandemic also taught many teenagers to be appreciative of what life was like before we were all forced under quarantine. It taught teenagers how to be more independent and proved that even teenagers have the ability to make a difference in such difficult times. For instance, many young teenagers found ways to give back to their community by supplying food to healthcare workers on the frontline for example and being supportive/grateful for everything doctors and nurses are doing to keep us safe. 

Teenagers in 2020 have had to adapt to the pandemic and undergo months of quarantine, and it has changed our generation in more ways than one. Arguably, teenagers have faced so much more than a lot of adults can say in such a short amount of time. Regardless of how long this pandemic will last, current teenagers will continue to show how they can adapt and strive in our world today.