Blog Post

Youth Takes: Life and Media During (and After) COVID

The SE2 Youth Advisors share the trends and behaviors that influence young people today
May 28, 2020

When the SE2 team decided to bring on two youth advisors, our intent was to leverage their skills to help us develop health promotion campaigns for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
We wanted to get their insights into the beliefs, perceptions, trends and behaviors that influence youth and young adults today.
It turns out that Isabella C. and Lindsey K. have opinions about all of that — and more. See these interviews for their views on social media today.

It seems long ago that we shot these videos inside our Denver office. In reality, it was just a couple of months ago. But the world has changed drastically due to COVID-19, and our working world has been no exception.
Today, our SE2 team is working from home like many Coloradans. From our home offices, we are continuing the important work of helping to promote positive health behaviors and motivating people to take action around key issues. We are each doing our part to keep our communities safe by wearing masks and practicing responsible distancing.

Recently, we wanted to get Bella and Lindsey’s take on how COVID is changing life and media use for young people. As expected, they had a lot of great insights to share.

How has COVID changed the way you are communicating today?

Bella: I can definitely say that in 2020, I didn’t think that yelling from my front porch to neighbors on the sidewalk was going to be such a popular form of communication.
I spend most of my days on Zoom calls. Recently we organized a virtual game night with friends, with everyone playing from their phones. It was a fun new way to connect and we were able to involve friends from out of state.
It’s been fun getting crafty to stay in touch with friends — but I’m definitely looking forward to being with them in person again.
Lindsey: I’ve been doing a lot more video and phone calls. Video calls are the closest approximation of hanging out right now, but they leave a lot to be desired.
Little things like sharing tweets and TikToks, or Snapchatting something I’m seeing, have become really important for me. It’s an easy way to let someone know you’re thinking of them, start a conversation or share an experience.

What impact are you seeing on your social channels right now?

Bella: Social media seems to be all COVID right now. But it has been a great tool to keep us connected and even be more open about our struggles.
I’ve seen a great deal of positivity being shared. I have loved seeing all of the thank-yous and positive messages towards health care and essential workers.
I have also loved seeing people support each other through this time. Whether it’s sharing a recipe, “live” concerts to pass the time, or a simple “How are you?” text, it feels good to just have that reminder that we’re all in this together.
Lindsey: I can’t remember what people talked about online before COVID. Though it’s calmed down a little, I feel like most of the content I see is COVID or quarantine related.
On my social channels, people have been particularly open about their struggles. I think there’s a sense of shared struggle right now that allows people to be really honest about how they’re feeling and doing, without fear of stigma.
There’s also been a lot of kindness and compassion going around — posts about having realistic self-expectations given how weird things are right now, reaching out to support others and being understanding if others are struggling and not able to offer support right now.
Also, memes: There’s been a lot of using humor to cope on my feeds.

What do you think the “new normal” will look like for young people in terms of communications?

Bella: While I don’t think things will be extremely different, I do think for a while everything will have this COVID covering over it – like when we don’t shake hands with new friends or have to enjoy live music together from six feet apart.
I hope in the new normal we carry with us the compassion and care that is all around right now. When this is over, we will still need the extra care as we move back into our everyday lives.
Lindsey: At the start of physical distancing, I would have said that the new normal would involve a lot more video calling and distance communication – but now I’m not so sure.
This situation has made the limits of digital communication really clear, at least in my experience with my friends. Video calls are great occasionally, but they really aren’t a substitute for in-person communication.