The May 23 article “The Great Depression paradox: Children survived, then thrived” surprised me, since I’m worried that “coronavirus fatigue” — physical and mental disorders brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic — has had a profound impact on students.

Indeed, according to the article, Glenn Elder, a sociologist, discovered a correlation between the Great Depression in the 1930s and younger generation’s greater success. A key to their success was family ties. Children as family members helped and worked hard for parents striving to make ends meet. Many of these boys later climbed the corporate ladder more quickly than others. Also, both boys and girls developed such abilities as resilience, determination and self-confidence, eventually bringing them a much happier life.

However, in the 21st century, family styles are more complicated and diverse than in those days, and parents and children are busy following their own pursuits. As a result, they don’t have enough time to interact with each other. In a sense, each family member is always isolated. Breadwinners are suffering from the consequences of the economic downturn, while fearing infection from the lethal COVID-19.

Students feel uneasy about their own school lives after this long period of self-restraint. Some may hesitate to contact friends, and ultimately choose social withdrawal. They have an avalanche of information via internet and cellphone, good or bad, so they could become victims of cyberbullying. They fear infection from the coronavirus as well. Thus, children are so stressed they could lose the ability to do anything voluntarily.

I think such dire circumstances are not having a positive impact on children during the current crisis. Unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball that predicts when the virus will spread least.

Mieko Okabe

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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