College Students’ Media Habits, Concern for Themselves and Others, and Mental Health in the Era of COVID-19

Ashley M. Fraser, Laura A. Stockdale, Crystal I. Bryce, Brittany L. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has entirely disrupted college students’ education plans, often their physical location, and it remains elusive when life will return to prepandemic normalcy. The current study examined changing media use patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the effect of these patterns on feelings of concern regarding one’s future and society, and the moderating roles of anxiety and depression in relations. Seventy-four college students (70% female; 55% White, 24% Pell-grant eligible) completed an online survey assessing time spent on TV, social media, and video game use in spring of 2019 (T1) and spring of 2020 (T2). Results revealed TV and video game, but not social media, use increased from T1 to T2, and change in TV use positively predicted an increased concern about society. Further, moderation analyses showed increased social media use raised concern for one’s future at lower levels of anxiety. Change in social media use raised concern for society at higher levels of depression. This study advances our understanding of college students’ interactions with media during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting some types of media may have been used as coping mechanisms with various effects on concern for self and others. Mental health can be salient to these relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-151
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 24 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Mental health
  • Social media
  • Television
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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