Advice about corona communication to young people

Shortly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, health psychologist Dr Christina Bode concluded that communication about this subject to young people requires tailor-made solutions. Subsequently, she formulated advice on 'Covid-19 communication' for young adults and shared it with the Municipal Health Service (GGD), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the media and the Municipality of Enschede.

The researcher based her recommendations on scientific expertise from health and development psychology and conducted a survey among young people, their parents and professionals working with young people between 22 and 24 March 2020. Bode: "Young people react very differently to the current situation. Some are very serious about it and adjust their behaviour accordingly. However, for a large group of young people the situation is still considered as none of their business and to some extent they feel invulnerable.”

Adapt to young people’s need for information
She looked into the unique needs of young people. Contact with friends seems to be of great importance to them, as well as autonomy. In addition, young people appear to have a strong desire for normality and seem to be a little tired of all the Covid-19 stuff'. Her advice is therefore to adapt any communication to young people about this subject to their need for information and their mindset. Bode: “Make use of social media and so-called 'influencers' to disseminate information. In particular, communicate with them about their personal experiences. For example, let young people describe how they have been affected by Covid-19 and about things they can do despite their restrictions.” Her advice also includes recommendations on the enabling roles that parents or schools can fulfil.

Always provide solutions
However, the most important thing, according to the researcher, is always to combine communicating announcements of an alarming nature with providing good and attractive examples of what anyone can do themselves. Deterring in itself does not help, because it causes a sense of helplessness, fear and paralysis and does not lead to the desired behavioural change. Therefore, show creative and inspiring solutions offered by young people themselves.

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dr. C. Bode (Christina)
Associate Professor, IUS Promovendi