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South Africa’s Youth Make Their Voices Heard Around COVID-19

  • 4 min read

Youth development lab Lucha Lunako has released the findings of a recent youth survey that the organisation conducted around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the mandated National Lockdown, as well as the attitudes and opinions that South Africa’s youth have towards these.

The Youth Covid-19 Poll by Lucha Lunako was conducted in May and June 2020 and asked among others how the youth have been impacted by the virus, the lockdown, and how they feel about the future. To enable speedy responses across the country, the team used WhatsApp to gather the data from a broad pool of respondents aged 18 to 34.  814 young people completed the poll via WhatsApp, with the majority (66%) of respondents living in Gauteng, while the rest reside in the Western Cape (17%) and other provinces (17%) across the country.

Some of the findings included the fact that 62.5% of young people surveyed say they are “very worried” about the virus. Consequently, the vast majority (87%) of young people polled are wearing facemasks when going to the shops in order to avoid being infected, whilst 78% are adhering to social distancing while in public. In terms of additional safety and precautionary measures being taken by young people, 41% of the respondents stated that they are either taking flu medicine or vitamin C supplements to help boost their immune systems. Worryingly, 25% of young people acknowledged that within their communities, people are still socialising outside their homes.

Staying abreast about news around the pandemic

When it comes to the sources that the youth prefer to obtain information around the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority (80%) prefer Presidential announcements. A large percentage (57%) also keep abreast around the latest Coronavirus and National Lockdown developments through mainstream media, while Google searches (53%), WhatsApp (41%) and other social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (36%) are also popular news sources for young South Africans. This is particularly interesting given the concerns regarding fake news and inaccurate information sharing.

While 70% of respondents are of the opinion that the lockdown was the right choice for government to protect people from catching the virus, only 52% of young people now feel that the lockdown is still needed to help curb the spread of the virus.

This can be as a result of the youth believing that they are worse off because of the lockdown for a variety of reasons including the fact that 30% of respondents feel they have lost money because of the lockdown and 14% have lost jobs or learnerships. A noteworthy percentage of respondents (28%) admitted that they borrowed money as a result of the lockdown, which has put them deeper into debt, while one in three can’t go out to look for work anymore. These financial comments are surprisingly low considering the expected effects of the South African slow down and the Lucha Lunako team believe it would be valuable to re-evaluate the financial impact later in 2020/2021.

Staying busy during this time

Time spent indoors during the lockdown was challenging for some with 35% saying they felt frustrated at having to be inside. When asked how they kept busy, 53% said they spent their time watching television and on social media as well as connecting with friends (25%). Some strain on family relationships was reflected with 21% saying that they found all the extra time with their family stressful, however 41% said they found the extra time alright.

When it comes to time spent during the lockdown, more than one in three young people have felt frustrated at having to be inside for these extended periods.  More than half of respondents (53%) are spending their time watching TV and on social media where they connect with friends (25%).

“The Youth Covid-19 Quick Poll by Lucha Lunako has shown that the youth have some pretty strong opinions about the Coronavirus pandemic and National Lockdown. Moreover, the youth of South Africa are also able to provide insights around the challenges being experienced due to the pandemic and want to be part of the solution. In many cases they want to be the solution, and just need some practical help from those around them in order to be positively mobilised towards their futures and to positively impact their communities,” says Alana Bond Co-Founder of Lucha Lunako.