Students of the Master’s Program in Journalism and Media Communications of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) conducted sociological research on the behavior of youth of the city of Lviv during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the basis of the results, they suggested ways to improve communication.
Under the direction of Prof. Viktor Susak, head of the UCU Sociology Department, the students conducted an opinion poll among youth of Lviv from 16 to 35 years old in November 2020. The subject of the research was the level to which the youth maintained the demands of the quarantine (using items of personal protection, maintaining social distancing, leisure activities, etc.) and also the level at which young people are informed and aware of dangers to them and their environment as a consequence of violating the demands of the quarantine. Taking part in the poll were 454 respondents (a quota sampling by parameters of sex and age of youth of the city of Lviv). On the basis of the data received, the researchers proposed a strategy for communications with youth in a time of limitations and uncertainty.
94.4% of respondents answered that they believe that coronavirus exists, and 85% feel there is a risk of contracting COVID-19.
At the same time, more than half of those polled entirely or to a great extent are frightened at what is happening and periodically experience stress. Approximately one-third of those polled entirely or to a great extent are depressed at what is happening; it is difficult for them to focus on performing tasks. They also agree that the pandemic has worsened their financial situation.
It is also interesting that the change of worldview that the pandemic has caused is rather positive, because it has caused a re-thinking of the values of support, trust, and faith, and led people to look for such examples around them.
Based on the results of the research, the students suggest communicating the following to youth during COVID-19:
Turn attention to one’s psychological state.
Don’t accentuate productivity or success but rather comfort, safety, and support.
A personal conversation may be helpful; it’s not necessary to delegate everything to a psychologist.
The influence of the Church and religion should not be underestimated, for example, communicating through religious groups and communities (Ukrainian Youth for Christ, L’Arche, Obnova, lay leaders at various parishes, etc.),
Remember that youth are ready to sacrifice and to help,
Talk about helping those around you and the mutual benefit of certain activities.
“We [professors] and the students have been researching the problem of the behavior of youth in Lviv in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic for four months,” said Olena Kulyhina, director of the UCU Media Communications Program. “Based on this, we have made a few hypotheses about how responsibly and conscientiously young people are following recommendations and legal requirements.”
The students presented the results of their research and their recommendations for communicating with youth on February 26 as part of an international online conference “Integral Human Development in the Digital Age,” which UCU co-organized with Georgetown University, the University of Notre Dame, and the Angelicum.
“Our polling is multi-faceted, inasmuch as it researches the lives of the youth of the city of Lviv in the conditions of pandemic with a wide spectrum of parameters regarding identity, values, and the attitudes and practices of young people in living circumstances that are difficult for them,” said Susak. “For example, we studied which groups young people put themselves in: Covid-dissidents, active maintainers of norms, worried by Covid, or skeptics. In this way, we were able to discover which of the groups has the most members. In addition, the poll had a bloc of questions connected with researching values, because in these extreme conditions, the question of who they are is exacerbated: individualists, or, on the contrary, collectivists, connected with social solidarity, or those who support a mood of protest, etc.”
Maryna Savenkova, a student in the UCU Master’s Program in Media Communications, said that, with each stage, she understood more deeply how important the work was and, in particular, how it provided knowledge which would be useful for the communicator: “In the process I understood that, without this research, it’s not possible to build correct and effective communication. At the same time, I was surprised and pleased that many people responded to the project and gladly took the survey. I believe that what we are doing will be very useful and that nothing similar has been done before, and now we better understand how necessary it is to communicate with young people so that they will follow safe practices during the pandemic.”
[The Ukrainian-language original of this article was written by Diana Motruk.]