Social media usage surges during the pandemic

Social media overuse- via screen time application. Photo by Gilmore

If you’ve been spending your time switching from app to app on your phone during COVID-19, you’re not alone. Social media has become today’s primary source of news information and entertainment, and with the outbreak of the coronavirus citizens everywhere have been glued to their phones.

The lockdown around the world has increased statistics of social media usage in the past month. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and even Snapchat have seen huge increases in engagement from February to now.

These applications are flourishing because they are inclusive to people of all ages. Kids and adults are sitting at home creating TikTok videos in their homes and teenagers are creating Instagram challenges to keep themselves busy.

Shaleja Yarbo, a second year journalism student at Eastern Michigan University, thinks the pandemic is the cause for her excessive social media use.

“With not many places to go or things to do my phone and social media usage has increased since COVID-19,” she said.

Yarbo said that TikTok and Amazon have been her go-to apps since the pandemic. TikTok was the most downloaded non-game app worldwide for March 2020 with more than 115.2 million installs, which represented a 98.4 percent increase from March 2019, according to Sensor Tower.

Osbee Sampson, a FAMU SBI graduate, said that his social media usage has doubled if not tripled.

“I feel like I sit on the phone all day everyday. There’s literally nothing to do but watch TV, read, and listen to music and I can do all of that from my phone,” Sampson said.

Brisk Rucker, a third year visual communication design student at Kent State University, says that he has definitely partaken in extreme social media use since the outbreak.

“There’s nothing but time on my hands with being stuck in the house so it’s easy to just grab my phone, be lazy and get on social media as opposed to being on a strict daily schedule.”

Osbee noted that his screen time has increased since being on lockdown and he was embarrassed by the results. His screen time in March was an average of 141 hours per week from his original 44 hours when things were normal.

Sampson agreed that he has also gotten lazy during this time. “Social media has increased my procrastination and is very toxic. There are times where I get tired of social media and don’t want to touch my phone. That’s how much time I spend on it.”

Yarbo insisted that she’s not letting this pandemic keep her distracted. “I could admit that sometimes I do get carried away watching funny videos, but I still make sure my work gets done.”

Yarbo, Rucker and Sampson added that they use social media for news but try to tune in to the morning news some days.

With the outside being closed indefinitely, no one knows when this social media surge will end, but a lot of people are enjoying the motivating and comforting messages they see while scrolling down their phones.

“I see a lot of positive messages on Instagram that are keeping my spirits up during this time, I guess that is the highlight of all of this,” Yarbo said.