The Lookout is a space for understanding how life has changed for young people during Covid. We’re primarily hearing from young people directly but recently hosted a discussion with parents and professionals working with young people. This Sighting shares a key theme from this discussion: the effect that changing routines and rituals have had on young people’s relationships in and out of the home.  

Especially during school closures, Covid dramatically reshaped young people’s routines. There was no bustling out the door for school, gathering in the corridors before class, playing football at lunch or hanging with friends after school and at weekends. Instead there were long expanses of time at home, punctuated by Zoom lessons, the odd walk and lots of family time.

The disruption to the rhythms of everyday life and the rituals that punctuate key milestones has had a notable impact on young people’s relationships, for both better and worse.

In-house bonding

For most of us, lockdown intensified relationships with those whom we share our home. For young people, days were not spent with friends and teachers, but with parents and siblings. ‘In-house’ relationships heightened in intensity and intimacy, for both better and worse. 

Lockdown boiled life down to very personal, intimate relationships at the expense of the wider social fabric. For most young people, family relationships came to the fore

Lookout participant

For some, the disruption to everyday routines and the distancing of ‘outside’ relationships gave family relationships space to be nurtured; to grow closer.

Being released from lots of the organised activities gave us more space, it enabled us to be more present with each other.

Lookout participant

We felt like we were enough for each other and that brought us closer

Lookout participant

But for others, the stripping away of life outside the home revealed truths and vulnerabilities parents would prefer to protect their children from.

Out-of-house disconnection

I mourn the lack of rituals that young people experienced during this time – starting a new school, leaving school, saying goodbye. Will new rituals, new routines emerge?

Lookout participant

Whilst the stripping away of rituals, routines and external influences created room for in-house relationships to become more intimate, their absence has created a sense of disconnection with wider society for some young people, particularly those in their mid and late teens.

The lack of routine has been significant for some. The kids have rolled with this but having more rituals, more routines will make them feel more part of society

Lookout participant

Missed rites of passage like significant birthdays, graduations and proms have interrupted young people’s sense of social progress and belonging. That these life events have been missed in a context of economic depression, widening generational inequalities and a global health emergency is likely to influence how young people today relate to society.

I’m 22 but I’ve assumed the life of 15-year-old Eric again. You feel like a failure to launch [into adulthood].

University Student interviewed in Time

I worry about the blame that young people have absorbed through the pandemic – they’ve absorbed stories of how young people are dangerous to older people

Lookout participant

Share what you’ve seen

Does this resonate with what life has been like for the young people in your life? We’d love to hear from you, and directly from young people themselves. Please get in touch at or head to to find out more about how to get involved.