Erenei Ligh, Grade 10, Staff Writer
Whether it be experiencing tragedy and loss or being forced to adjust to a new way of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has, without a doubt, impacted everyone’s life. According to multiple studies, the pandemic has specifically affected the development of Generation Z more than any other.
A national study by The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), a global research firm in Austin, Texas, showed that individuals ages 18 to 24 have been especially hard-hit from the pandemic. “The study reveals that the experience of remote work is uneven and rife with anxiety,” said Jason Dorsey, CGK president, in a press release. Over ⅓ of the subjects interviewed said Covid-19 has disturbed their work and believe their employer needs to provide them with better tools for working remotely.
In a survey sample of 1,099 U.S. employees, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that half of their employees from Generation Z felt burnt out from work compared to only one-fourth of Baby Boomers. "The younger the employee, the more likely they were to report feeling emotionally drained from work," SHRM said in its report.
Generation Z has had the most negative experience with Covid-19 because it hit during their most formative years. Generation Z currently ranges from ages 9 to 24 and the brain generally does not finish developing until age 25. This means that in 2020 when the pandemic hit, the majority of those in Generation Z had not yet finished developing. The pandemic only complicated their mental development, forcing them to adapt to life in quarantine as rites of passage such as graduation and were delayed or reconfigured.
Specifically, college-aged members of Generation Z, in the most transformative years of their life, were forced to face an additional world of obstacles amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the usual job-hunting, apartment-buying, living alone milestones a young adult might experience, they have also been forced to navigate the new normal that is remote work, virtual learning, and social distancing.
Meanwhile, the younger side of Generation Z has to completely change their way of learning in uncharted territory. Children need the developmental years spent in elementary, middle, and high school to learn the basics, but remote learning serves as an extra barrier and results in less learning than normal.
According to a ReGenerations survey of more than 500 people from 29 states and six countries, 50 percent of Gen Z is worried about falling behind in their education, 67 percent is worried about job prospects and financial stability, and 41 percent think they will be worse off when the pandemic ends.
Additionally, although Generation Z has been proven to have struggled the most mentally, they are the lowest priority due to their lack of physical struggles in terms of COVID-19. The risk of Generation Z contracting COVID-19 is relatively low, and, even if they do, symptoms are often minor and the death rate is extremely low. Subsequently, Generation Z tends to be ignored in regards to the pandemic.
Despite Generation Z being the least likely group to become ill from Coronavirus, it has been hit disproportionately by what could very well be the biggest educational disruption in modern history. This includes an unemployment surge, the psychological effects of being isolated in lockdown, and young workers being the least likely group to have received financial support for lost jobs.
Since COVID-19, the country’s social, political, and economic landscape has been reshaped. As a result, Generation Z now peers into an uncertain future instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities.
The effects of COVID-19 hit Generation Z especially hard in a variety of ways.