HRT (Croatian Radiotelevision): About love in the age of the corona – challenges and risks of youth partnerships

In the regular program of the show Good Morning Croatia dedicated to mental health, edited and hosted by Sanja Kocijančić Petričević, on May 22, 2020, the psychologist of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, Krešimir Prijatelj spoke about the challenges and risks of youth partnerships during the health crisis and a part of the short film of the Youth Committee of the our Center “And this is us …in the digital environment” which was awarded special recognition in the film competition “Our online life, about which parents know nothing” organized by the Agency for Electronic Media, UNICEF and for Croatia and the Croatian Film Association was shown.

“Love in the time of the corona” was the topic of the show in which the interlocutor was a psychologist Igor Mikloušić, PhD, member of the Commission for the Protection of the Mental Health of Children and Youth of the City of Zagreb during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Igor Mikloušić spoke in general about romantic relationships in the age of self-isolation and quarantine, for which the first data from China show that there were more divorces, but also more pregnancies than usual at that time of year. Data coming to us from the U.S., where social networking sites and dating apps are headquartered, speaks to an increase in communication through live conversations, whereas previously more was communicated by sending messages. In Italy, the work “Love in the Age of COVID-19” was published, which talks about the increased sexual desire and stronger interest in sex during self-isolation and quarantine.


Psychologist of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, Krešimir Prijatelj joined the show via Skype, and the screen showed infographics from his work “Challenges and Risks of Romantic Relationships of Youth during the COVID-19 Pandemic”, which was published on the website of our Center:

– Many young people do not talk about their experiences of violence in the digital environment, which in the current crisis warns many organizations around the world, and the World Health Organization emphasizes the danger of increasing all forms of violence, including electronic violence in youth relationships. Adolescence is a really important period in people’s lives, in which young people enter into the first romantic relationships, thus fulfilling the need for belonging and love, and at the same time building the foundations for some partnerships later in life – said psychologist Prijatelj:

– At the time of the current crisis, adolescents are constrained in the realization of romantic relationships, which can be difficult for some. Namely, their brain is not fully developed, specifically the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for executive functions such as impulse control, planning and understanding the consequences of their own behavior. At the moment, it can be really challenging for young people to maintain existing partnerships, and on the other hand, it can be risky to enter into new ones. A 2017 survey found that 78% of young people experience that their partner checks them several times during the day by phone or message during the day, where they are, what they are doing, looking for evidence in the form of screen shots, and it is important to emphasize quality over quantity and create a new routine that young people will set aside time in the day to dedicate to their partner while finding a space or room in the house or apartment that will allow them to communicate relatively undisturbed. Experts emphasize the advantages of video calling over classic phone calls (due to observing facial expressions), and young people are encouraged to be creative in finding applications, games or other formats of quality and fun online time together.


– Did the young people call for help at the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center? The hostess asked him.

– Young people call regularly and in the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center and on counseling lines such as Brave Phone. What I would like to emphasize is that getting into new relationships of young people over the Internet proved to be risky even before this health crisis, because there is always a danger that behind a profile on social networks there is a person who presents himself completely differently to adolescents, and therefore in counseling we emphasize to adolescents, but also to parents that knowledge is a shield and that in this context of meeting people, the setting of privacy protection on social networks can protect a young person from inappropriate content and reduce the risk of electronic abuse and violence. Many aspects of adolescents’ lives have moved online – from education to relationships, which has increased the risk of electronic violence in relationships, and research has shown that 50% of young people experience cyberbullying from their partner at least once in their lives. while ¾ young people report at least one type of electronic violence in relationships in the last 6 months. Of additional concern is the data that electronic violence is significantly associated with emotional violence, and victims of electronic violence experience an average of as many as 23 incidents in a period of six months. – said Krešimir Prijatelj.


– Is there a difference between young and old when it comes to romantic relationships on social networks? – the host asked Igor Mikloušić.

– Young people adopt new technologies faster and easier. All these data that experts from the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center have submitted to us in the past two shows are extremely important. They have great materials on their websites as well to look for. These are new times and one needs to learn to deal with them. What is attributed to Generation Z or millennials is that they are the originators of a “hook up” culture that uses applications to get to know as many people as possible more easily and quickly. Most of the first romantic encounters happen online. Conversion, the transition from virtual to real encounter on Tinder occurs from 10% for women to about 0.5% for men. So while there is the impression of a large selection, it becomes in a way a paradox, precisely because of the size of the number of people we meet online, we pay less attention to the individual and get to know them less. According to the data coming to us now, in this period in which we were necessarily separated, in which we had to weigh well whether to break the isolation and start some kind of relationship with the person, we may have returned to the old type of relationship, where we communicate a little more, a little better we meet the person we want to connect with and with whom we want to get in touch, we will only see what this transformation means for us in the long run – said Mikloušić.


Source: HRT (Croatian Radiotelevision)

Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.   


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