Kerekes N, Bador K, Sfendla A, Belaatar M, Mzadi AE, Jovic V, Damjanovic R, Erlandsson M, Nguyen HTM, Nguyen NTA, Ulberg SF, Kuch-Cecconi RH, Szombathyne Meszaros Z, Stevanovic D, Senhaji M, Hedman Ahlström B, Zouini B
Int J Environ Res Public Health 18 (16) - [2021-08-19; online 2021-08-19]
This work studied self-reports from adolescents on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their behaviors, relationships, mood, and victimization. Data collection was conducted between September 2020 and February 2021 in five countries (Sweden, the USA, Serbia, Morocco, and Vietnam). In total, 5114 high school students (aged 15 to 19 years, 61.8% females) responded to our electronic survey. A substantial proportion of students reported decreased time being outside (41.7%), meeting friends in real life (59.4%), and school performance (30.7%), while reporting increased time to do things they did not have time for before (49.3%) and using social media to stay connected (44.9%). One third of the adolescents increased exercise and felt that they have more control over their life. Only a small proportion of adolescents reported substance use, norm-breaking behaviors, or victimization. The overall COVID-19 impact on adolescent life was gender-specific: we found a stronger negative impact on female students. The results indicated that the majority of adolescents could adapt to the dramatic changes in their environment. However, healthcare institutions, municipalities, schools, and social services could benefit from the findings of this study in their work to meet the needs of those young people who signaled worsened psychosocial functioning, increased stress, and victimization.