Children and teenagers must socialize, get an education, be active citizens, and sometimes work in addition to the previous activities, but what happens when they are deprived of the opportunity to do all this fully? How has the usual way of life changed and what was happening in the minds of young people during the COVID-19 period in Estonia according to the 2020 research?
If there would be a coronavirus at the end of the 20th century, we would use letters or telephone communication for socializing with loved ones: a home phone and telephone booths. The new, really innovative, what the Internet brings is an enhanced communication function – something that was absent in the old media. As a result, the audience receives entertainment, news information and consumes educational content with a phone or tablet in hand. In any case, this was originally conceived, until the moment when the Internet became the cause of low self-esteem, the constant comparison of one’s life with someone else’s, cyberbullying, the emergence of hate speech, which does not contribute to improving mental health, you think, and you will be right. but it’s not that simple.
Aleksandra Munts-Avajõe, head of the program “Let’s Get Rid of Bullying!” In a recent interview with the Positive News Channel, the non-profit organization “Estonian Union for Child Welfare” reported that according to Telia’s research, in 2020, school students experienced 20-30% less bullying during distance learning. Interesting was the fact that being homeschooled, young people began to eat better and sleep more, as a result a healthy diet and sleep have a positive effect on the human mind.
There is also a downside to the coin, for example youth groups who have remained outside the reach of youth services that contribute to improving the psychological state. These are, first of all, people with disabilities, students with special needs in formal and non-formal learning, marginalized youth groups who can no longer be contacted using online tools. Especially the problem of inaccessibility of information has affected minority groups: Russian-speaking and English-speaking people. For example, on one of the most popular youth mental health sites Peaasi.ee, while switching to Russian or English, only the title of the page remained, without any content. We can only hope that soon 15 topics and one page of tests will be translated into minority languages with the help of translators and volunteers to ensure equal support for all people.
The government’s decision to hold proms is the particular concern to young people. Will the people who have given 9 or 12 years to study at school be deprived of the final holiday? Uncertainty only worsens the mood for a happy future. What to do now after school: what to go to study or where to work in the era of a pandemic, when people with higher education and previously acquired work experience are more often hired for positions with the possibility of contactless work? Isn’t it time to ask youth work and career counseling specialists about this, and most importantly, the young people themselves? After an open dialogue between the both sides, the government could offer possible solutions to current problems.
It is worth remembering that young people are not a passive observer, but a direct participant who has the right to express their point of view on solving the problems associated with coronavirus. Youth policy will help in this matter – youth groups offering various solutions, including slowing the spread of misinformation, providing sanitation and hygiene opportunities, or supporting the local community, as well as providing solutions for groups most vulnerable to the pandemic, such as persons with disabilities. Youth policy should involve young people in discussions about COVID-19. It should also not be forgotten that technological development and innovation are essential for future youth work. 
Author: Rusalina Gassõmova, youth worker, volunteer of Peace Child Estonia
 Kulchitskaya D.Yu., Vartanov S.A., Dunas D.V., Salikhova E.A. and other Media consumption of youth: specificity of research methodology // MediaSkop. 2019. Issue. 1. Access mode: http://www.mediascope.ru/2529
 RAY Research Network (2020) “Research Project On The Impact Of The Corona Pandemic On Youth Work In Europe” (Source: https://www.researchyouth.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RAY-COR_Initial-Survey_Key-Findings_20200814.pdf)