New study It found that young people were less satisfied with their relationships, felt less intimate, and felt less support from their friends in the pandemic year, compared to 2019.
As a result, the academics claimed that those affected experienced enough “missed opportunities” to affect their development.
The study, which was published in Social, psychological and personal sciences Journal, comparing the social development of 415 California youth aged 18-35 years over eight months in 2020, with 465 California youth of the same age in 2019.
Participants shared updates on factors related to their development with researchers.
“If all goes well, young people choose in social networks, and start friendships “Romantic relationships and finding their professional niche,” said study lead author Dr Janina Buehler, from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.
“However, our findings show that external pressures and environmental changes may be setting young people on a less fortunate path.”
She added that small effects can have lasting consequences.
“Environmental conditions and contexts are important for development, because they provide the opportunities people need to grow in a healthy way,” she continued.
“In 2020, the average young person may have fewer of these opportunities, causing fear and anxiety while potentially stunting their development.”
The researchers concluded that additional studies looking at how those who are least affected cope could lead to the development of better resources and support for young people who are struggling.
Follow the news February report by The Prince’s Trust which found that happiness in young people was at its lowest level in 13 years.
A survey of 2,106 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 commissioned by the charity revealed that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of young people in the UK believe they will never recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, more than one in four (44 percent) are more anxious now than they were at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jonathan Townsend, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust in the UK, said the past two years could be “a scar on young people’s lives” unless urgent action is taken.
Additional reporting by SWNS