“We have the impression that it’s over”: a psychology professor explains the increase of COVID-19 in young people

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TORONTO – A psychology expert believes the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases among young people in Canada is not surprising – and ultimately comes down to their need to create social networks. In the past two days, health officials in Ontario have announced that more than 50 percent of new cases of COVID-19 in the province have been in people under the age of 40. In total, the province has announced 368 new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday.

Steve Joordens, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, called the increase in COVID-19 cases “not really surprising” and pointed out what he called “optimal arousal theory” , which suggests that everyone benefits from a certain amount of social activity in their life, but the absence of these interactions can develop between people.

“If we’re at home for months, we crave social interactions with other people,” he said. “This is especially true for young people for whom they are at the stage of their life where they are building the social networks that they will rely on all their lives and this is really where their minds are often focused.”

Joordens said that because older people have likely already made these romantic relationships and long-term friendships, they are more likely to wait before socializing.

“We all want these social interactions too, but we’re thinking, ‘Oh, let’s wait a little longer before we get a little too crazy with this and let’s lower the disease rate,’” he said.

Joordens said that the working conditions of the younger population also play a role, as many of them work in the service sector or in the retail trade, which reopen slowly and can give a younger person a feeling of security.

“When you work in an industry where you feel like it’s over or it’s over, you can very quickly want to completely come back to where we were,” he said. “I think that’s the situation these people find themselves in.”

Joordens also pointed to the increased consumption of alcohol on patios and in bars among young people as the reason for these cases.

“You have a drink or two inside yourself and all of a sudden it’s hard to follow the rules,” he says.

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