Guest Column | It’s a brave, new world for Generation C
With schools starting to reopen, partially and in a phased manner, first timers will experience the physical aspects of schooling in a different modus. This generation will be the first to have never known the joys of a mask-free childhood, sitting in classrooms and auditoriums crammed with hundreds of students, the fun of sharing a tiffin with unsanitised hands, and the appreciative smile on an unmasked teacher’s face.
Those conceived or born during the pandemic have been given the name ‘coronials’, toddlers who are already taking classes on zoom are being called ‘baby-zoomers’ and then there are the ‘quaran-teens’, the teenagers resigned to spend their college life in a room next to their parent’s. Clearly, Generation C will be defined by the traits and behaviour changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
The early years of a child’s life are very important for his or her health and mental development and several studies are now suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic would have a huge role in defining our next generation. Children are growing up under the watchful eye of their parents and extended family and are mirroring their elders’ thoughts and personalities. They are constantly being piloted to safe and clean surrounding, told to their masks up, deprived of the joy of free touch and asked to avoid close proximity with people, even friends. At this vulnerable age, they are likely to become germophobes, overprotected individuals with obsessions and compulsions and may even imbibe a socially distant mindset.
Some recent studies have found that the pandemic may have a positive impact as well.Generation C will know how to thrive in adversity, will develop techno-dexterous abilities, a heightened sense of self-awareness and give priority to wellbeing and sustainability. Jason Dorcey, president, Centre for Generational Kinetics, says , “The pandemic is likely to lead to structural changes and new norms that the next generation could ultimately benefit from including shifts in online learning, physical work spaces, contactless payments, a vaccine and other new technology.”
Will they pay for these advantages with a lost childhood? The new generation will miss out on the joys of living without barriers and restraints, having soiled hands and clothes, making new friends in public parks, and raising their uncovered faces to wind and rain. The phrase ‘young wild and free’ is probably not as applicable in the post-Covid age as the young can no longer be wild and free anymore.
( The writer is an advocate at the Punjab and Haryana high court, Chandigarh. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)