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The rise of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a global surge in exposure to disaster and crisis-related media. Increases in poor mental health outcomes such as anxiety and depression, are associated with increased exposure to such media content (Abbas et al., 2021; Riehm et al., 2020; Zhao & Zhou, 2020). In recent years, social media has become one of the most widely used sources for news; approximately 48% of adult Americans receive their news from social media (Pew Research Center, 2021). During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in social media use due to social distancing and isolation resulting from pandemic-related safety measures (Abbas et al., 2021; Riehm et al., 2020). Further research is needed on the interplay of increased social media use and the associated exposure to crisis-related content, with anxiety and depression symptoms. The current project will investigate these associations by presenting results from an ongoing, longitudinal study, Spit for Science, a yearly series of surveys assessing behavioral health and, more recently, the COVID-19 experiences of undergraduate students. This survey was conducted in May of 2020 on the current active cohort of students shortly after safety precautions were taken to halt on-campus activities (N=897). Participants completed measures assessing COVID-19-related stressors and behaviors and questionnaires assessing anxiety and depression symptoms. Social media use was measured using multiple-item questions assessing the frequency of exposure to COVID-19 related content. Data analysis will be conducted using linear regressions to understand the relationship between the variables of interest. Analyses are currently ongoing. The significance of this study is to contribute to the scientific literature regarding the impact of COVID-19 and social media use on mental health outcomes.

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Subject Major(s)



social media use, covid-19, coronavirus, anxiety, depression, symptoms, anxiety and depression, mental health, pandemic, social media, crisis-related media, crisis, exposure, spit4science, spit for science, s4s, survey, college, college students, mental health outcomes


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Mental and Social Health | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Social Psychology

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Christina Sheerin


© The Author(s)

The Relationship Between Social Media Use and Depression and Anxiety Symptoms during COVID-19