Yesterday saw the easing of the strictest of social distancing measures across the world as Spain’s under 14s were allowed out of their homes for the first time in 6 weeks.
For children 6 weeks feels like an eternity, just remember the start of the summer holidays as a child, when it felt you were a lifetime away from the new school year.
Would it be naive therefore to think this global event will not leave a lasting impact on our youngest generation or are we all creatures of habit that will return to our new sense of normality once the tough restrictions are lifted?
If we focus on our youngest Generation, Alpha, what short term and potentially long term effects are we seeing from this?
One of the biggest standouts for me as a parent is the reality of how little our children actually require to lead fulfilled and happy lives. All the parents I speak to of younger children comment on how their little ones are currently “living the dream”: schools cancelled, unlimited time with their usually time poor parents, engagement in new imaginative activities and getting involved in tasks usually reserved for adults. My boys who are 6 and 3 have not asked to go anywhere or see anyone, this is certainly a world away from the jam-packed schedule we usually keep to ensure they are always entertained.
But can the same be said for our top end Gen Alphas? Termed the Glass Generation, their time spent interacting with friends through devices will have taken over to fulfil the void of their need for social interaction and engagement with their peers, a necessity at this stage of life you would argue. The big challenge households face here is enough bandwidth to fulfil the household’s communication demands.
Let us not forget some of the more positive by products of lockdown. A new sense of community being built from cheering for our NHS hero’s, to helping our neighbours, alongside the instant impact we have had on the environment… I have never seen so many bikes on the streets and is it just me or does the air seem visibly clearer and fresher?
The education system has been far from consistent in the short time schools had to plan for this period. These learning gaps will no doubt be filled once the education system gets back in full swing. Meanwhile children will have been busy learning a host of new and important life skills like cooking, cleaning and maintenance alongside their home schooling.
But will the draw back to our convenient and experience-based lives be too much to remember the lessons of lockdown?
The lasting impact of this pandemic is yet to be seen. A lot will come down to the length and strictness of the measures that follow this initial lockdown period. After all we know habits formed in the summer holidays are long forgotten just a couple of weeks into the autumn teen. Our take outs will ultimately be what we make it and in the case of Gen Alpha what lessons their caregivers choose to carry forward when our new normality resumes.