The role of social media during the coronavirus pandemic has been fundamental in helping people stay connected with the progress of the health crisis as well as other major events that are happening in different parts of the world.
While the various social media outlets may be a good facility, experts have also emphasized their potential negative effects on mental health and contributed to associated problems such as the rise of mental health disorders and emotional distress among all age groups from teenagers to older adults.
Currently, the vast majority of the population lies on direct news on the internet and social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and others rather than on conventional tabloids and news channels on television.
However, the switch from traditional means of obtaining news around events happening all around the world started from the advent of social media years ago. So, what has changed since the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?
In accordance with the reports on the latest social media trends, many people have switched their habits due to the change in their routines and the constantly changing conditions of the world.
For instance, a survey held by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, which included around two thousand participants examined any potential changes that have occurred with the way people use social media in their daily lives since the start of the current public health crisis.
A vast majority of fifty-six percent of the participants reported that they have altered their way of using different social media platforms during the health crisis.
Out of the people who changed their habits, twenty percent cut downtime in order to reduce stress from reading about current events or worsening conditions of the pandemic.
On the other hand, twenty-nine percent reported increasing usage to stay informed with the latest updates regarding the pandemic or other events.
The most common topics and sought after updates were on the coronavirus pandemic, changing political affairs and presidential elections as well as the updates on the issue of racism in the US.
While staying updated about the major events going on right now is fundamental for most people, experts argue that constantly checking for news can contribute significantly to mental health disorders.
People who have used more social media during the pandemic report higher levels of stress, emotional distress, and an increase in the likelihood of anxiety attacks and depressive episodes.
Currently, the number of people switching their social media habits has been higher than ever before, according to the chief investigator of the survey, Ken Yeager, who is also the director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
With so much going on at once, it can be difficult to stay away from using social media during the pandemic. For many, staying updated may also be very important.
However, it should be noted that taking out time for mental health is equally important as health should always be a priority. This does not mean a person should leave social media entirely but take breaks occasionally in order to manage stress and anxiety.