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The gains and losses of Britain’s ‘coronavirus generation’

  In the south of England, a group of 16- and 17-year-old students are standing at the gate of Luton No. 6 Secondary School, talking about the impact of the epidemic on their lives. This is a long and painful story. Their school life was interrupted frequently, and everyone became nervous and listless. To make matters worse, it’s been a long time since they dined with friends. One girl said sadly that she and her friends were so used to seeing each other online that after the lockdown was lifted, they were shocked to find that they had almost forgotten how to communicate with people in real life. “Even when we were sitting face to face, the heart didn’t seem to be there at all,” she said.
  Today, teenage life is slowly returning to normal. Almost all schools reopened after Christmas last year. But the chaos of the past two years has affected a group of people, and in some ways, their entire lives. Pediatrician Max Davey called it “an unfortunate but interesting natural experiment”.
  During the lockdown, Britain seemed to have gone back in time, returning to an era when most children were educated and fed at home. The recurrence of the epidemic has gradually kept children away from school and community life. Homeschooling has become increasingly important in children’s lives, and its impact has been mixed, says Binks Nite-Evans of the National Institute of Education.
  A Department of Education study last summer found that primary school pupils in the survey were two months behind in maths learning compared with figures from the previous year. And those children who enjoy free school meals due to family poverty are even further behind, a full two and a half months behind. Not only that, but there are huge regional differences in the situation. For example, children in London are 0.8 months behind expectations; children in the South West of England (the least affected area by the outbreak) are staying on track; while children in the North East and North West are at least three months behind.
  If these backward kids don’t catch up (assuming the government won’t pay for tutoring), they will face a lifetime of loss. An extra year of schooling increases lifetime earnings by 8 percent, according to estimates from the Education Policy Institute, a think tank. Missing three months means a loss of £15,600 to £30,900. Students in the north of England have suffered even more, which is likely to dash the government’s hopes of bringing the region’s income levels “up to the next level”.

  During the pandemic, most parents are willing to spend more time with their children, and more surprisingly, most teens also say they enjoy being with their parents.

  However, the new crown pneumonia epidemic did create a group of online “experts”. During the lockdown, parents and schools agreed that while children were spending a little more time with screens and could sometimes experience cyberbullying, none of this was a cause for concern, and isolation from peers was the big problem. , so it is still necessary to encourage children to go online. “Kids use social media no matter what, so we’re encouraging them to do so during this pandemic,” said Jeanne Langley, principal at Kingsway Park High School in Rochdale.
  Many are adjusting to living at home. In August 2020, a government survey of children aged 8 to 15 found that their three favourite places to spend time were parks, beaches and gardens. And a year later, their first choice has become “indoor”. Other surveys show that most parents are willing to spend more time with their children during the pandemic, and more surprisingly, most teens also say they enjoy being with their parents.
  Medical data also proves this from the side-most people are satisfied with the leisurely life at home. From March 2020 to July 2021, the monthly number of children aged 5 to 14 admitted to hospital for accidents was lower than pre-pandemic levels. The number of children hospitalised for injuries from playground sports equipment has also fallen sharply, although this may also partly reflect a desire to avoid placing an additional burden on the healthcare system.
  Lack of physical activity, along with a variety of other reasons, causes many children to start gaining weight. In November 2021, the National Child Measurement Programme, which covers primary schools across the UK, reported a sharp rise in childhood obesity, particularly in poor areas. Like the math progress mentioned above, this is likely not a temporary phenomenon, as obese children have more difficulty exercising or eating normal amounts of food than other children. “Once you’re overweight, it’s harder to get back to normal,” Dr. Davey said.
  In addition to sports, another activity related to teens is also significantly reduced. While pregnancy rates for girls under 18 in the UK had been falling before the pandemic, in the second and third quarters of 2020 the number had dropped to 5,696, down from 7,188 in the same period a year earlier. These data suggest that teens are not only improving their use of contraception, they may also be having less sex. Adolescents account for only 4.4 percent of STIs treated in hospitals so far. Dr. Brooke, who owns an adolescent sexual health clinic, saw a 56 percent drop in visits in the first year of the outbreak.
  Young people are also taking longer to be educated. An increasing number of 16-year-olds are choosing to stay in school, partly because of GCSE mark inflation (a surge in the number of people who get high marks because of over-rated marks). In the 2020-2021 school year, only 65,000 students under the age of 19 were enrolled in apprenticeships, a third less than in the 2018-2019 school year. This change, like others brought about by the pandemic, is likely to continue. Luke Cibita, who works at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think tank, said education participation rates tended to rise during recessions and never fall back afterward. That could help mitigate the damage from school closures.
  The changes brought about by the epidemic have two sides. Many agree that teens have become more connected to their families and more distant from their friends during the pandemic. Teenagers are doing far fewer things they think are mature than before, like dropping out of school, working, and having sex. The pandemic seems to have allowed them to enjoy an extended period of childhood.

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