Has Generation Alpha been left behind?

Throughout the various Covid lockdowns, we have all experienced loneliness. There’s no denying the struggle that many have been unable to see friends and family.

Living in London, without the comfort of being able to see my best friends and family in Essex, was difficult, it felt like I had lost my security blanket.

The lack of socialisation truly has taken a toll, and I often feel nervous thinking about restrictions ending, and seeing large groups of people. It’s like I had lost all my social confidence, and fear that I will carry on shying away from the world. 

Socialising is a very important developmental tool, which is encouraged from a young age. According to experts, from birth on children need to feel a sense of safety and belonging.

Young children develop social skills through interactions with others. The more they are around other children they can play with, the more it teaches them important life skills such as sharing, kindness, acceptance.  

Generation Alpha is the term used for those born after the year 2010. I hadn’t noticed many conversations about how the restrictions would affect the younger generation until I stumbled across a video on TikTok of a toddler looking into the distance seeing a group of children playing at the park.

This video really moved me, not just because of the melancholic music in the background, but due to the realisation that perhaps this age group may be most affected by the pandemic, and they don’t even realise it.

As I scrolled through the comments of this TikTok, finding various comments from other parents expressing their sadness that their young child was missing out on play dates, and afternoons at the park surrounded by other children.

“She is so shy and not talking. Not socialising with other children has definitely affected her,” one user commented on TikTok. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@kerrymorgan00/video/6925377238204534021?sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6899578208028984837&is_from_webapp=v3&is_copy_url=0

I spoke to Janet*, the mother of a young child, and asked her how lockdown has been for her with a toddler. “The first lockdown was quite scary. We stayed in[side] a lot which isolated my daughter from other children. When we eventually went outside I had to keep her away from playing with other children just in case they had COVID and it broke my heart,” she said.

“Now in the third lockdown, although I am cautious, I take her to the park. For me, I love spending time with her, and I loved that we could spend time all together as a family.”

Playing outdoors, in a space like a park, encourages the cognitive development of a child, introduces them to new scenery, and also boosts their independence, as they are able to play and exercise out in the fresh air. 

Lack of socialisation with other people can be rather detrimental to their growth as children, and studies suggest that children who weren’t motivated to play with others due to being shy have grown into adults with social anxiety.

“She did have issues socialising after the first lockdown. She didn’t really pay any attention to other children and it worried me. I put her in nursery because I didn’t want it to be an ongoing problem and now she loves being around other kids,” Janet told me.  

Being a child, I disliked school, I would be hysterically crying every morning when my mum would take me, as I hated being left there and being with other children. Whilst I eventually grew out of this, I guess it was due to my attachment to my mother, I almost wanted her to come to school with me! 

With the restrictions set to be lifted on June 21, it raises the question of how these young children will behave after lockdown is over.

“I think she’ll be a lot happier being able to see her friends and family again. She’ll also be able to enjoy being a child again, going to play centres and swimming,” Janet said. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how the young and the older generation will be doing after all the lockdowns. To those who are concerned about life after COVID, don’t worry you are not alone. It definitely will be overwhelming, just take it step by step, we’ll make it together.

 

 

 

* Some names have been changed on request of the interviewees


Featured image by Timothy Newman via Unsplash CC.
Edited by Sophie Victoria Brown, Darnell Christie, Natalia Zmarzlik, Tom Tyers and Vanessa Richter.

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