Report

It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse: Children’s and Adolescents’ Experiences, Perceptions and Opinions on the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada

2022

It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse: Children’s and Adolescents’ Experiences, Perceptions and Opinions on the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada

2 months ago 2 months ago Published by
This report was published by UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti.

HERE’S HOW THE AUTHORS DESCRIBE THIS REPORT:

The COVID-19 crisis has long-reaching implications for children’s lives. Prior to the pandemic, Canada already ranked as one of the lowest among rich countries for children’s well-being. To date, research on Canadian children’s and youth’s experiences during the pandemic has tended to focus on specific topics (e.g., physical activity), directed by researchers, and has lacked a broad exploration of young people’s perspectives.

We report on a child- and youth-centred, exploratory research study on the perceived negative and potential positive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also asked participants to give policy recommendations to government, for the current or future world crises. This qualitative study was informed by three child and youth advisory teams, throughout. We conducted 10 focus groups and 23 semi-structured interviews, with a total of 74 young people, aged 10–19 years, from four provinces and one territory. We sought to actively recruit from groups who might have been most affected by the pandemic (e.g., LGBTQ+, racialized and Indigenous children and youth).

We found changes in young people’s relationships with parents and siblings, with an increased closeness that was, at times, described as “unnatural”. Young people also told of more distant relationships with friends, extended family and family living outside their household (e.g., non-residential parents). Children and youth also lost out on extracurricular and other activities, while doing more household-based activities, such as baking, and increasing their use of technology. With regard to the emotional impact, young people described experiencing more boredom, worry and gratitude, and younger participants reported feeling anger as a result of the pandemic as well. Across ages, participants also reported methods of coping, such as spending time outside and finding objects that provided comfort. Young people also reported having greater levels of worry for others in the world, and expressed concerns about their own and others’ development during this time, with young people at transitional points (e.g., about to leave high school) feeling especially challenged. Additional themes were increases or decreases in focus and motivation, identity and self-awareness, and shifts in sleeping, eating and activity schedules. Finally, participants reported having challenges with school, including difficulties being engaged but also feeling overwhelmed or alone in their learning.

Ramey, H., Lawford, H., Berardini, Y., Caimano, S., Epp, S., Edwards, C., & Wolff, L. (2022). It’s Difficult to Grow Up in an Apocalypse: Children’s and Adolescents’ Experiences, Perceptions and Opinions on the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada. UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti. https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/1433-its-difficult-to-grow-up-in-an-apocalypse-childrens-and-adolescents-experiences-perceptions-and-opinions-on-the-covid-19.html

Categorised in: