Analyzing The Effect Of Social Media Information On Mental Health During Covid-19 Pandemic

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Analyzing The Effect Of Social Media Information On Mental Health During Covid-19 Pandemic


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background Of The Study

A newly emerging coronavirus, SARS‐CoV‐2 (previously known as 2019‐nCoV) which can cause coronavirus disease (COVID‐19), a severe respiratory illness like SARS and MERS, was first reported in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) initially declared the COVID‐19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and then characterized it as a pandemic. In response to the pandemic, rigorous policies to restrict public movement and large gatherings have been implemented in China, such as extending the Lunar New Year holiday, postponing the spring semester for universities, primary and middle schools and kindergartens (“China Extends Spring Festival Holiday”, 2020). Due to the strict physical distancing measures, people are heavily reliant on media, especially social media (e.g. Weibo and WeChat), to learn the latest news about the pandemic and to maintain connectivity (Limaye et al., 2020).

Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. The Office of Communications and Marketing manages the main Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts.

Despite the importance of media in spreading urgent information during times of collective trauma events, numerous studies have suggested that disaster media exposure may evoke poor mental health outcomes. For example, early 9/11‐ and Iraq War‐related television exposure was prospectively associated with increases in post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms (Silver et al., 2013). Following the Boston Marathon bombings, six or more daily hours of bombing‐related media exposure was associated with higher acute stress symptoms in individuals outside the directly affected community (Holman, Garfin, & Silver, 2014). Among adolescents who did not experience the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, those who were frequently exposed to distressing media images reported a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 6 months later (Yeung et al., 2018). Although the negative impacts of disaster media exposure on a range of psychological outcomes have been demonstrated (see the review by Pfefferbaum et al., 2014), secondary traumatic stress (STS) was not adequately addressed (Ben‐Zur, Gil, & Shamshins, 2012; Blanchard et al., 2004). STS refers to PTSD‐like symptoms, such as arousal, avoidant behaviors, and intrusive imagery, as a consequence of being indirectly exposed to traumatic events (Branson, 2019; Ludick & Figley, 2017). Given that most people are not infected with SARS‐CoV‐2, it is critical to consider whether media exposure is associated with STS among the general population. Indeed, Li et al. (2020) found that the general public reported even higher levels of vicarious traumatisation than front‐line nurses fighting COVID‐19.

Compared with traditional media, social media has played a multitude of positive roles in information exchange during the COVID‐19 crisis, including disseminating health‐related recommendations, enabling connectivity and psychological first aid (Merchant & Lurie, 2020), showing public attitudes, experience, and perception of the disease as well as sentiment to the government (Zhu, Fu, Grépin, Liang, & Fung, 2020). On the other hand, social media has also fueled the rapid spread of misinformation and rumors, which can create a sense of panic and confusion among the public (Garfin, Silver, & Holman, 2020). However, there has been a dearth of studies focused specifically on social media exposure. Thus, it is still unknown whether and how using social media to access COVID‐19 is associated with mental health. In addition, it is necessary to examine the association in young adults, considering that they are more frequent users of social media (China Internet Network Information Center, 2013) and are prone to use social media sources to access disaster‐related messages (Piotrowski, 2015).


1.2 Statement Of Research Problem

The emergence of covid-19 brought along fears because ,this was a new disease which the cause was not known at the time it began and there was no vaccine yet for it, this caused so many confusion to the the entire world populace as there were varied and unconfirmed information as to what causes it, or how it can be contracted or the kind of precaution one can take to avoid contracting the virus. Amidst all this social media advertisement played a huge role in disseminating information whether from a confirmed source or not and this have adverse effect on the mental health of a lot of people. Also, this made so many people get wrong information . Example of which was the information that if u eat a lot of ginger you will not contract the virus and in the end it landed a lot of people in the hospital this among many are what we shall examine in this study.


1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The primary objective of this study is to:

  1. To find out the effect of social media information on mental health.
  2. To find out the positive and negative effect of these information on mental health.
  3. To find out how well processed and confirmed information can help improve mental health.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for this research which are:

  1. What are the causes and effect of social media information on mental health?
  2. What are the role of social media in the positive and negative effect of wrong information on mental health?
  3. How can social media get right and verified information and controlling misinformation?
  4. What are the ways confirmed information can help improve mental health?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The significance of this study cannot be underestimated as:

  1. This study will lay emphasis on the effect of social media information on mental health during covid-19 pandemic
  2. The findings of this research work will undoubtedly provide the much needed information to government organizations, ministry of health, individuals, NGOS, and academia

1.6 Scope Of The Study

This study intends to analyze the effect of social media information on mental health during covid-19 pandemic. Hence this study is delimited to social media users in Lagos state and as such, will be used as our case study.


1.7 Limitations Of The Study

This study was constrained by a number of factors which are as follows:

Financial constraint is inevitable considering the present economic situations. Due to lack of finance at the researchers disposal to get materials and in printing of questionnaires. it was not possible to visit some of the communities that have been plagued by bandit activities.

In developing countries like Nigeria, there is the problem of insufficient data.

Time factor: time factor pose another constraint since having to shuttle between writing of the research and also engaging in other academic work making it uneasy for the researcher


1.8 Operational Definition Of Terms

Analyze:

Examine something methodically and in detail, typically in order to explain and interpret it.

Social Media:

Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Mental Health:

A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being

Covid-19:

This is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel corona virus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’


Analyzing The Effect Of Social Media Information On Mental Health During Covid-19 Pandemic


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Analyzing The Effect Of Social Media Information On Mental Health During Covid-19 Pandemic

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