The increase of social media during lockdown and its impact

Posted on 22 January 2021
By Shannon Garner
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Being separated from our friends and families through social distancing measures for most of 2020, many have relied heavily on social media to keep busy and stay connected with loved ones.

With activities and services such as fitness classes, education, therapy and concerts now entering the virtual world, an increased dependence on digital devices was inevitable.

A recent study on YouGov, commissioned by eye health charity Fight For Sight, suggests that out of 2,000 people surveyed, half have used screens more since the coronavirus pandemic. With 38 per cent of those questioned, also believed their eyesight has worsened.

Rebecca Alder, a Specsavers representative commented on the increase of eye strain: “There has been a rise in eye tests when lockdown restrictions lift.

“Many customers are coming saying their main problems are eye strains, due to the use of electronic screens and working from home.

“Children’s eye tests also have a long backlog and due to online learning they are also straining their eyes more.

“In the period in which children were back in school, many were coming for tests due to being unable to see the board.”

The younger generation already spent increasing amounts of time on social media prior to the coronavirus pandemic, so the current surge in dependence on it is worrying, with some labelling it as “very unhealthy” and “addictive.”

A twitter poll that was live for two days shows that people have spent more time on their phones compared to usual.

A student originally from Liverpool, Anna Bailey, 21, also commented about being on her phone all the time.

She said: “I am on it all the time. I would not be on my phone in a normal lecture but now I am because it’s online and I am at home.

If I was out with my friends, I would not touch my phone but I am not seeing anyone anymore so communication through social media is my only social time.”

Others joked about the statistics of their screen time and the amount of hours spent on specific platforms with one saying their screen time was “through the roof.”

Laura Otty, 20 from Crosby, Liverpool has become addicted to TikTok and shared her usage statistics: “I spent three hours on TikTok yesterday, which is shameful. I just sit and scroll through my feed for hours. I spent eight hours on it last week.”

Over the years, there have also been several studies about the association of screen time and mental health problems in adolescence.

One study published by JAMA Paediatrics concluded that young people who spend an increased amount of time in front of digital screens are more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression.

In-between the second and third lockdown, 20-year-old Abi Smith from Weymouth, Dorset started a mental health Instagram page.

She has been sharing her personal experiences and discussing ways to cope throughout lockdown: “I try really hard to stay off my phone and laptop but obviously it’s a bit harder during lockdown.

“My mental health page helps me stay sane so I just mute all my other socials and try to focus on research for this page.

“That means I’m not spending as much time consuming media because they’re all muted which I found is a good way to cope mentally.”

Mental health charity Mind also found that limiting how much news and social media people engaged with was a common way to cope with their problems.

If you are struggling with your mental health and need help, you can look at the different resources available here:

Also, don’t forget to share how long you’ve spent on your devices because of lockdown. Let us know on social media: @PurpleRevolver & @shannonmayy_or in the comments section below.