Social Media and COVID-19

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Social Media and COVID-19

Jun 18, 2021

COVID-19 has increased my social media use exponentially. Before the pandemic I used social media for very brief periods in between classes or while laying in bed at night. There were very few times when I sat on social media for hours on end, simply because I didn’t have the time to do so. My average screen time when school was in-person was roughly 3-4 hours each day, which also included time spent on my phone for work and school-related activities. This screen time pales in comparison to the average 6 or 7 hours during the pandemic.

In the early weeks of lockdown my screen time rocketed, especially since I was using my phone to connect with the friends that I had suddenly been ripped away from. The other factor that increased my screen time was my newfound love for TikTok. Unlike ever before, I would spend hours upon hours scrolling through TikTok with all my newly acquired free time. This habit was definitely not healthy and probably took some days off of my life. This unhealthy practice didn’t last for long since the pandemic fatigue quickly set in. When what was expected to be a six-week lockdown turned into months without end, I began turning away from the overwhelming presence of social media. A great contributor to my mid-pandemic social media detox was Zoom fatigue. With school and all socialization taking place online, I began to feel a deep desire to sit in silence or get outside by myself away from any screen.

My screen time now is probably back to about average before the pandemic. The novelty of the pandemic and working from home has long since worn off, so I make my best effort to spend my free time away from electronics. The Zoom fatigue has only worsened, so my interest in anything electronic outside of my mandatory educational screen time has evaporated. My screen time yesterday was 4 hours, which is pretty high considering that I had class and work nonstop from 8AM to 8PM. These four hours accumulated between classes and at night before going to sleep. This pattern is pretty average for me these days, but I still feel that I spend entirely too long looking at various screens all day. Ideally, I would like to use my phone strictly for text messages, phone calls, and FaceTime with friends or family. Although part of me is exhausted and would like to delete all social media from my phone, realistically I know that this is currently the only way that I can stay up-to-date with friends and family scattered across the world.

My most used social media app according to Apple is Instagram. My second most-used app is Twitter with TikTok following closely. While I do occasionally use Instagram for personal purposes, I mostly use it for my job that requires me to respond to messages and post content from the business account. My Twitter screen time is mostly from the mornings or nights when I check breaking news. The only social media that I’d say I use purely for entertainment is TikTok, which serves no real purpose besides providing a break from the bleak reality of life these days. While my screen time is relatively high for my personal preference, I know that this is comparatively low compared to others my age. My goal for this year is to slowly ease off of social media as my bedtime mental vacation and begin reading books or meditating before sleep.

Simone Decker, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: How much time did you spend using social media before the onset of COVID-19? Did it go up or down in the early weeks of the lockdown? How much time do you spend on social media now? The class covers copyright and social media. Simone is an Advertising major.

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