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We, the Teens, of Generation Z

By: Leah Sycoff

This period includes struggles that will be marked in history forever. We, the teens, will tell the story of COVID-19 to our children. Textbooks will capture the very details of what we are living in. We are part of a critical historical event that will change life as we know it, and in this technological error, we have control over how this novel coronavirus will be portrayed to others in the future. We are the generation that will remember what is going on and write the events for future generations. As the youth in this time of desperation, it is crucial to react to this situation properly or provide some sort of support and effort. It is in our hands to unite as a global community and assist each other. 

We always hear adults’ views on various topics relating to COVID-19, but in this time of difficulty and despair, it is also important to hear what the younger generation has to say. So, we are home from school and separated from our friends; some people are spending their time alone improving what they know, and others are unhappily wasting time. It is crucial to say that everyone handles difficulties in an adverse way, and therefore, there are many different reactions. Personally, I am a combination of both people. Occasionally, I relax and do nothing, while other times I am doing loads of work. For me, it is important to maintain stability and order so to ensure I remain healthy. Family time is key. I make sure to include my family in my stability because, for me, at least, family is most important. Keeping in touch with my friends is also something I hold dear. In fact, I sent a survey out to some of them in order to learn how others are perceiving and taking action in this burdensome time. When asking what they believed the outcome of this pandemic would be, 70% of the participants (males and females ages 16 and 17) agreed that everything would resolve within the next several months, while others said that it may resurface in a few months, life will change, people will be more hesitant to socially react, and people will continue to wear masks for several months after it subsides. Although this data was not taken from a statistically, sufficiently sized data sample, there still holds truth to the opinions. 

Most teens right now believe that this conflict will go away soon. I would say that I agree. There, of course, is no way to know for sure, but I can also say that I agree with what all of my peers chose. When it came to the media, my friends had some varying results. While some thought that the media sources justifiably reported on what was going on, others thought that they were blowing everything inefficiently out of proportion. Why is this? These are two completely opposite views. I personally think that that must be because of the particular news channel(s) from which they are updating themselves about the coronavirus and where they are finding the information. The many channels watched are Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN, News 12, CBS, and some others. They also gather their information from adverse resources such as watching them on television, watching on a phone or a computer, reading on a social media platform, hearing the adults in their house talk about it, reading online newspapers and websites, only looking at the school updates, and talking to their friends. These varying ways of retrieving information create many different opinions and can even confuse the viewer when hearing different sides of the story. It is vital that one goes to many different sources to find information about the controversial issues in the world because different politically sided sources will pick different information to share and may even spread fake news. It remains critical, at any time, to keep your eyes open to the many views of the world; this will hopefully ensure validly backed information from which you can create opinions. I am glad that most of the participants decide to get the news almost every day. It is very important to gather the news as often as possible and on your own if possible.

As far as post-quarantine, most of my friends were overwhelmingly looking forward to seeing their friends again. Although we are maintaining the health and safety of society by social distancing, we must remember that we can stay in contact virtually. Staying home and social distancing remain important steps in protecting ourselves from this pandemic, but that does not mean losing contact with friends. At least with me, I Facetime and Zoom with my friends every day. Even though I am not sitting with them in person, I feel that this suffices when thinking about the horrific risks of leaving my house. The participants also had many fears and worries about life after the pandemic. I received an abundance of answers such as not being able to take the ACT/SAT again, life completely changing, the virus reappearing, and the fear of relatives and loved ones dying. These are all valid fears that can be daunting. The repercussions of everything going on right now can both kill way too many people and alter the future. Most people had no clue that the COVID-19 pandemic would be so horrible; many thought school would be closed for two weeks, and some even thought one week. Here we are, though, stuck in our homes with the extra groceries and toilet paper that everyone bought in preparation, but families are still going shopping weekly. Many teens are not putting in the extra work for school; they are flooded with work, but too stressed to do it. According to the participants, they spend the time they are not doing work watching Netflix and sleeping, but they are also doing other productive and worthwhile activities such as working out and picking up new hobbies. Some are thriving on healthy recipes, although others are snacking away. This means that people are handling this situation in contrasting ways whereas some see this time as a time for growth. Unfortunately, others see it as only the bare truth… depressing. 

These many opinions make up a majority of how, we, the teens, of Generation Z, view our time in quarantine. We will remember this time and share our story for decades to come as we are living through history.

Photo courtesy of Leah Sycoff.