Youngsters glued to social media amid lockdown, nearly half experience heightened stress: Study
The study conducted by professors from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) surveyed youngsters from middle- and upper-middle-class families and found that on an average they spent up to six and a half hours every day on social media platforms.Updated: May 19, 2020 14:58 IST
The coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown is leading youngsters to spend more time on social media with many remaining glued to them for hours at a stretch and this could be leading to increased stress levels in nearly half of them, a study has found.
The study conducted by professors from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) surveyed youngsters from middle- and upper-middle-class families and found that on an average they spent up to six and a half hours every day on social media platforms.
Keeping in view this tendency, the study has stressed the importance of the dissemination of accurate information on these platforms as impressionable youngsters are avidly consuming the content.
The study by LSR faculty members Dr Kanika Ahuja, Dr Anisha Juneja and Dr Yatan Pal Singh Balhara of AIIMS is based on data of more than 300 college students in the 18-25 years age group. Of these 185 were females and 123 males; 274 were enrolled in undergraduate courses and 34 in postgraduate courses
“The average time being spent on social media (by those surveyed) was found to be 6.75 hours, with a standard deviation of 3.35 hours per day,” according to the study.
Another detail that emerged was that 44% of those surveyed agreed that social media increased their stress.
“Students are stressed over their studies, exams, placements as they are facing an uncertain future. The final year undergraduate and postgraduate students are worst affected as many companies are rescinding job offers. Our findings suggest that the more they are stressed over Covid, the more they use social media, which in turn lowers their well-being,” said Ahuja.
Students in general face stressors like financial problems, academic pressure, adjustment to novel social and geographical environments, relationships, life stage transitions and time management, says the report.
These stressors probably get aggravated in lockdown conditions characterised by extreme restrictions, little distractions and low face to face social support, the study says.
“Though it was not explored further, it is possible that pandemic related content, sometimes fake videos, increasing reports of infections, deaths and spread of the disease all over the internet could be distressing,” it says.
Exploring personality types, the study found that extroverts largely are able to maintain some form of connection through diverse virtual platforms available.
The lockdown might have resulted in increased socialisation with family members, playing virtual games with known or unknown people, helping them cope better.
Participants high on agreeableness and compassion may have found news related to deprivation and sufferings disturbing.
“Students are using social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, for over six and a half hours on an average every day. The abundance of information reported through social media results in social distancing but not mental distancing,” said Ahuja.
The study noted that social media platforms are expected to clear ambiguity in uncertain times like Covid-19, like promoting healthy behaviours of hand washing and social distancing.
As much as social media is spreading awareness about public health, it is also being used to spread hatred and unrest. There has been trending of hashtags that link spread of corona to a particular religious community and have been watched by millions of users, the study mentions.