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3 Things the COVID Crisis Taught Us About Our Kids

2020 was a year we will never forget (especially here in the United States). According to a survey by Bloom, a self-therapy app company, 2020 was the 8th worst year in American history. The year was marred by what many have affectionately called the 3Ps: the pandemic, the protests, and the presidential election. Manisha Sinha, a scholar of slavery, abolition, and the U.S. Civil War, predicts that when future generations look back on 2020, they will see it as "a really consequential year." I couldn't agree more, especially given the impact of the COVID crisis.

According to an article from National Geographic published in September 2021, COVID-19 is the deadliest disease in American history. For more than a century, the influenza outbreak in 1918 held that distinction. To put this into context, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 675,000 Americans died during the 1918 pandemic. As of the writing of this article, over 1.1 million Americans have died from COVID. Every time I see that number, I'm at a loss for words.

As startling as the data surrounding 2020 has been, it hasn't told the whole story. Much emphasis gets placed on the impact 2020 has had on adults (and understandably so). However, 2020 also had a significant impact on our kids. And that impact exposed us to harsh realities that we must contend with as we fight for the future. I want to share three of them in this month's blog.

1. Their mental health is worse than we thought  

Mental health is real and impacting our kids at an alarming rate. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting more than a third of adolescents. The mental health impact is also gender-specific. During the pandemic, suicidal thoughts and attempts have increased by over 50% in teen girls compared to 2019. Now more than ever, we need serious dialogue around our kids' mental health.

2. They aren't as prepared for life as many of us were 

The primary goal of parenting is life preparation. My grandmother told me something years ago that I'll never forget. She said, "Don't teach them how to be children. They won't be children for long. Teach them how to be adults." There's such wisdom in that statement. The COVID crisis taught our children a valuable life lesson: don't make excuses. Make adjustments. They will need this skill to carry them through the unpredictability of adult life.

3. We must fight to develop their social skills as their tech skills rise

We've all heard it said, "This is the most tech-savvy generation ever." While that may be true, it doesn't come without cost. Research shows our kids spent more time in front of screens than face-to-face interaction before COVID. Since COVID, those numbers have skyrocketed. As parents and next-generation leaders, we must help them balance screen time and face time.

A word to parents and next generation leaders

As you can see, the COVID crisis taught us a lot about our kids. However, it will not matter if we don't take these revelations seriously. If we don't, the effects will be devastating. 

  1. Their mental health will continue to spiral out of control.

  2. They will move into adulthood completely unprepared.

  3. They will be better with devices than they are with people. 

It doesn't have to be that way, though. We can change the tide. 2020 wasn't the first year we didn't see coming, and it won't be the last. It has been said and truthfully said, "The quality of our lives is impacted by how well we handle what we didn't see coming." 

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