Takshashila Survey – Comparative Study of COVID-19’s Effects on Teenagers in India and The United States of America

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This report, commissioned by the Takshashila Institution, paints a vivid picture of how 2 countries – India and the United States – are dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The analysis investigates the patterns of behaviour amongst people of all ages during these times, however the main objective of the study has been about the comparison of how coronavirus has affected teenagers differently in these 2 countries. It examines the effect that the pandemic has had on incomes and jobs across the world, as well as the resultant consequences that have arisen due to social distancing. It additionally explores how public health levels have changed, varying levels of lockdown intensity in contrasting states, and how different people have expressed different levels of consternation due to the virus.

The primary purpose is to provide evidence of how not only these 2 countries, and not only teenagers, but all people from all over the world have experienced the pandemic in different ways, and hope that it will be a useful source of information in the future.

The most striking and perhaps most notable change that we have observed is the abrupt increase in internet usage, with people regardless of country and age increasing their screen time to a great extent. California is a state where teens have completely immersed themselves in their digital worlds, where 95% of them are spending more than 8 hours a day online. When we move across the globe and look at India, and Karnataka in particular, 64% of the same demographic are spending more than 8 hours online. This is compared to 32% and 17% in the same states prior to the pandemic. This is similar in Texas, where we can see a majority of users being online over 8 hours which contradicts the amount of time used before the pandemic at around 2-4-hour range.

Arguably one of the areas that have been affected by this the most, is education. As we know, this pandemic has affected nearly everyone in the world in terms of their schooling and jobs. Almost 95% of California teens have stated that their regular workload has been affected in some way, yet in Karnataka only 63% of teenagers have reported a change in everyday schooling and workloads. Nearly 99% of teens in California have been taking online classes, but only 50% in Karnataka have communicated that they have been doing the same. When the participants were asked if they preferred online or physical classes, more than half of California adolescents did not; they preferred the latter over the former. This seems to be a trend everywhere with almost 70% of teens in Karnataka reporting the same. Texas is similar to California, as the United States as a whole has taken the practice of online schooling to replace physical learning for the remainder of the school year. 100 % of Texan responders state that they are taking online classes, and a majority of those responses prefer physical learning. This does not mean that they would rather be at school right now, but more a comparison of both ways of learning.

Optimistic views on how the world will change after the pandemic seem to be the norm – with people from all ages all over the world reporting that they believed that the world is going to change for the better after the pandemic. A large 76% of people globally said that they thought that the world is going to see improvement after the pandemic has run its course, and this number increases when we look at India in particular, where 86% of the responders said that the world would be altered in a better way. However, teenagers seem to hold a different opinion – a little more than half of teens in both California and India think that things will change for the better – a considerable decrease from the overall statistic.

While the number of people who reported wearing masks differed largely in these 2 countries – (87% in Karnataka, 23% in California, and 39% in Texas), the majority of people in these places have shown that they have a good civic sense when it comes to washing their hands. In all of these states, 83% of people have stated that they wash their hands more than 5 times on a daily basis.

Most countries that have been affected by the lockdown have implemented stay at home orders like lockdowns and quarantines upon their people – the intensity of which depends on the number of cases and people in a specific region. Globally, about 90% of the surveyed people reported being under a full lockdown or quarantine. In India, this number was even higher at 95%. A clear comparison can be drawn between India and the United States here – 85% of people in Karnataka stated a complete lockdown, while only half of the Texan responses claimed the same.


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