Be cognizant of COVID-19’s effect on the generational gap

By Kaity Kempf | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. We continue to explore a new normal, as every day something seems to surprise us. With the pandemic starting over a year and a half ago, specialists in psychology and other medical fields are starting to notice new trends that occurred due to quarantine — specifically with regard to the generational gap.

In a recent study, Babes-Bolyai University found that generational identity and COVID-19 prevention behavior have a positive correlation. It tested many different factors, such as health anxiety, perceived risk, knowledge about COVID-19 and negative automatic thoughts. The study found that health anxiety was significantly higher in Gen-Y than in Gen-X or Baby Boomers. It also found that psychological flexibility was significantly lower in Gen-Z than in Baby Boomers.

During quarantine, a poll released from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research stated young adults are more concerned about the virus than much older adults — specifically 43% of adults age 30 and under and 21% of those age 60 and over. While the attitudes of both groups were slightly different, the likelihoods of performing preventative behaviors for COVID-19 ended up being very similar.

However, as the pandemic progressed, we saw in a study conducted by University of Southern California that the older generations quickly engaged and complied with preventative behaviors to slow and eventually stop the spread of the virus. The article states that “Older persons may have become aware that they are more vulnerable to poor outcomes from the virus and seen a greater need to follow better hygiene, quarantine and social distancing related behaviors. This awareness may have been absorbed quickly after the pandemic started and increases in infections and deaths were reported daily.” Of course, there are a number of confounding variables to take in, such as location and number of cases, but overall, this was the trend that was reported.

Even though each generation has handled COVID-19 in a different way, I believe that the generational differences will begin to decrease when we come to the realization that we have all been affected by the virus. The widening is not necessarily a bad thing; rather, it is something we need to be cognizant about moving forward. Our normal has changed, and we are expected to keep up.

It begs the question, though: How did being raised in quarantine affect the next generation of children?