The Social Life of High School Seniors: COVID Experiences

Clara Maxwell, Thomas van Rijckevorsel

Abstract


COVID-19 marks a time of social isolation and social change in the lives of many people. While previous literature has focused on the mental health consequences of isolation on young people, our qualitative research aims to explore the lived experiences of adolescents during the pandemic. Based on 10 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with senior year students at the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, this study seeks to determine whether both the government and school-imposed COVID-measures have impacted the social lives of our participants and to understand how they experience these potential changes. Our research found that students report a significant change in social life, but, in contrast with the existing literature, their experience of this social change is perceived as positive. These positive changes included a reported improvement in social connections, a more conscious use of social media, and the potential for more alone time. By exploring these three themes, our participants’ unexpected positivity can be placed into a larger context in which the pandemic is an opportunity to forge more meaningful connections while learning to be more conscious in spending time alone in an “always-on” culture.


Keywords


adolescents; COVID-19; social life; aloneness; social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v12i1.11315

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Karen McGarry.

ISSN 2369-8721