Young people are an important part of society. One day the young generation will define our world. The experiences, knowledge, skills, and values they acquire during their formative years play an important role in their personality formation and priority settings. Therefore it is important to study how youths are affected by historic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This study focuses on young people and their perceptions of the Corona era in the Visegrad region (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia). It offers insights into various domains of young people’s lives – education, employment, political and value orientations, interpersonal relations, daily life experiences.
When the first COVID-19 cases were reported at the end of 2019 in Asia, few people anticipated the virus spreading to Central Europe. However, the situation changed dramatically after the sudden COVID-19 outbreak in Europe in early spring 2020. Already in March 2020, the Visegrad countries’ governments rapidly adopted strict regulations to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Social distancing, including limits on the number of people who could meet in both public and private, was introduced in each V4 country. Curfews were introduced, including bans limiting movement to various degrees, the schools were closed and education was carried out remotely and most employees worked from home.
The study focus on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic on young people’s lives in four areas: family life and relationships with the older generation(s), value changes, education and employment, and trust in media and government. The study argues that there is an underlying process occurring in all these areas of some young people’s lives – the onset of premature maturity. The pandemic and governments’ responses have contributed significantly to a change in their thinking and partly a change in their values.