Youth and Young Adults in the Covid-19 Crisis

The American Voices Project is a nationwide study of how people are doing during these difficult times. It’s a first-of-its-kind study that relies on in-depth immersive interviews delivered to a representative sample of people across the United States. We’ve talked to people about their health, emotional well-being, relationships, jobs, politics, and much more.

This report looks at youth and young adults during the Covid-19 crisis. Young people have borne many of the costs of the pandemic and lockdowns, but we have heard little about their lives outside of the difficulties imposed by online learning. 

Key findings:

  • For many young people, the pandemic was experienced as a time of stillness.
  • This stillness often took the form of reductions in physical activity and social interaction, which in turn brought about feelings of boredom, low energy, restlessness, sadness, and depression.

    “I’ve literally kept my kids in the house since February or something. They stay in the house. My husband and I are the only ones who leave.”

  • Although this stillness was often felt as loss, some young people experienced it as a gain that allowed them to spend more time with their family, learn new skills, and enjoy time away from the pressures of everyday life.

    “I think God has a way of setting the record straight at times when he needs us to refocus, so he’s slowed everything down and now our focus became each other, taking care of each other, spending time with each other, laughing with each other.”

  • An important unresolved question is whether the pandemic will be experienced as tolerable stress or as toxic stress with harmful long-term consequences for youth and young adults. It will be important to pay special attention to the needs of adolescents from disadvantaged socioeconomic groups when determining the appropriate policy response.


Reference Information

Publication Date: 
February, 2021