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“I Hate This”: A Qualitative Analysis of Adolescents' Self-Reported Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic

      Abstract

      Purpose

      The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for adolescents because of disruptions in school and social life. We compiled a diverse group (36.8% nonwhite or multiracial) of high schoolers' open-ended responses to the question: “What are your three biggest challenges right now?” (N = 719 adolescents).

      Methods

      Using open and axial coding, we identified N = 1,902 thematic units (M = 2.64, SD = .701) and 14 thematic categories, including mental health, physical health, family, friends, social connection and community, academics, missing important events, socioeconomic issues, routine, COVID rules and adjustment, contraction/exposure to COVID, technology, and future plans.

      Results

      Adolescents most commonly reported challenges related to academics (23.7%) but also cited high numbers of challenges in mental (14.8%) and physical (13.2%) health and friend (11.4%) domains.

      Conclusions

      Efforts should focus on helping adolescents cultivate academic skills needed during school closures, providing mental/physical health resources and helping them navigate peer relationships—especially given ongoing remote education and social distancing due to the pandemic.

      Keywords

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