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COVID-19 and social media use

As you can probably guess, the use of social media has increased during the pandemic quarantine. Yes, I know, shocking!!! Now, the actual percentage increases vary wildly by source, but the online behaviors show some interesting trends.

As can be expected, the highest percentage of quarantine internet activities was “searching for coronavirus/COVID-19 updates” with “listening to music” a close second1. Surprisingly, “watching fitness videos” was not a large percentage increase, with “I’m trying to stay off the internet” came in lowest with only a 5% increase overall1.

When comparing Desktop usage vs. App usage, there was a larger increase in desktop versus mobile users; one would assume that could be attributed to the larger amount of individuals being at home. Facebook showed a 27% increase in desktop usage, with Twitter (23%), and YouTube close behind (15.3%), according to the New York Times2. Mobile app usage showed a 22%2-32%3 increase for Instagram, where as Facebook only had a 1.1% increase in mobile app use2, and YouTube acutally saw a decline of 4.5%2. According to Axios4, social media use was up 4% overall from January to March 2020, and the amount of time spent online increased 14%5. As you can see in the graph below, the average person has increased their social media use in most categories.

As many users know, social media can have negative effects on health, business, education, and societal influences, according to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering6. A bright spot of this pandemic could be people are being more open about their struggles, 40% overall, with men at 46% and women 31%7. With all of the negative emotions, news stories, and actions of our peers, perhaps this bright spot will continue and allow people to heal.

There are also positive effects of social media use, especially during this pandemic time, such as utilizing video conferencing to reduce isolation, learning new skills and techniques via online webinars, the improvement (and embracement) of telehealth medicine, and getting help in whatever context you might need it6. During these unprecedented times, I certainly hope that individuals will seek help if they need it, laugh with those you love, and remember that we will come out stronger on the other side.


1. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/

2. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/07/technology/coronavirus-internet-use.html

3. https://www.r2integrated.com/r2insights/covid19s-impact-on-social-media-usage-and-strategies

4. https://www.axios.com/social-media-overuse-spikes-in-coronavirus-pandemic-764b384d-a0ee-4787-bd19-7e7297f6d6ec.html

5. https://www.iab.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Consumer-Media-Usage-2019-through-April-2020.pdf

6. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Waseem_Akram27/publication/323903323_A_Study_on_Positive_and_Negative_Effects_of_Social_Media_on_Society/links/5ab1c064a6fdcc1bc0bfefef/A-Study-on-Positive-and-Negative-Effects-of-Social-Media-on-Society.pdf

7. https://blog.globalwebindex.com/trends/social-media-covid-19/

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