In this study, we examined parents' (n = 260) perceptions of their own and their children's use of social media and other types of communication technologies in the beginning stages of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) related sanctions (e.g., social distancing) in the United States. We also examined associations between social media and technology use and anxiety. On average, parents reported that both they and their children (especially teenagers aged 13-18) had increased technology and social media use since the beginning of social distancing. Moreover, even after controlling for demographic factors, structural equation models showed that parents and children with higher levels of anxiety (as reported by parents) were more likely to increase their technology use and use social media and phones to connect. Among parents, higher anxiety was related to using social media for both social support and information seeking. Based on these results, we advocate for the utilization of social media by public health officials for collecting, collating, and dispersing accurate crisis-related information. As social media use is widespread, and there is potential for false rumors to cause erroneous behavioral action and/or undue stress and anxiety, we also suggest that social media campaigns be thoughtfully designed to account for individual differences in developmental stages and psychological vulnerabilities.
Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw
Drouin, Michelle; McDaniel, Brandon T. PhD; Pater, Jessica; and Toscos, Tammy PhD, "How Parents and Their Children Used Social Media and Technology at the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Associations with Anxiety." (2020). Health Services and Informatics Research. 24.