RESEARCH • Using Media to Survive COVID-19


Media, Life & Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic

An NIAID slide of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus — but the image has also been used to illustrate the COVID-19 outbreak

ICMPA and over a dozen other universities in the United States and Canada, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia are launching a global study of undergraduate and graduate students to determine how they are using media during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — to stay informed, to connect for work, and to reach out to friends and families.

The study is investigating how students use media, across platforms, as providers of news and information, as educational tools, as sources of entertainment, as a means of communication with friends and family, and as ways to create and engage with their self-defined communities. 

“Anecdotally we hear that college students around the world are turning to mainstream and social media to track information about the pandemic, but perhaps even more importantly, they are reaching out to social media — especially visual media — to seek companionship and to build community in ways otherwise unavailable to them while they are isolated and ‘sheltering-at-home.’ 

The COVID-19 study is a way for researchers to discover what is happening around the world:  To what extent are media part of the solution to the challenges faced by young people… but how much are media also part of the problem?”
               – Prof. Susan D. Moeller, ICMPA director and co-PI of study

The “Media, Life & Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic” study is intended to offer unprecedented insights into how a global cohort of university students use communications technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they self-report socio-behavioral, psychological and economic effects of the crisis.

Many countries and communities have levied different directives related to COVID-19, and in particular regarding physical or social distancing. There are also distinctions in the type and quantity of media accessed and available. The “COVID-19 Pandemic” survey aims to capture data during this time to understand media-use, daily routines, and the creation of community. The particular problems addressed in the research include those of media use — including news and entertainment, the adjustment of daily routines — including work, hobbies, and socialization during the global pandemic.

This survey is intended to provide the University of Maryland, College Park and global researchers insight into the daily lives/routines of university students living around the world during the global pandemic. It will provide data related to demographics and media use, community building, and the degree to which individuals have been personally affected by the pandemic.

It is hoped that the dataset will enlighten researchers understanding of the degree to which media technologies are used to seek information and build community in times of global crisis. The dataset will capture the current global crisis through qualitative and quantitative questions to provide rich insight into the media habits and emotional well-being of global students.

Susan D. Moeller & Bobbie Foster Bhusari are Co-Principal Investigators of the “Media, Life & Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic” study. 
Sohana Nasrin, Weiping Li & Mahfuzul Haque are Co-Investigators of the study.

photo of virus taken from Yale Medicine

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