An Exploratory Study of Social Media Use at the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • J. Mitchell Vaterlaus Montana State University
  • Emily V Patten Brigham Young University
  • Lori A Spruance Brigham Young University


social media, health, covid-19


The purpose of this study was to explore adults’ lived experiences with social media during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Participants (n = 564) completed an online survey with open-ended items between March 21-31, 2020. Data were analyzed using a phenomenological qualitative approach and four themes emerged. During the COVID-19 pandemic, participants experienced social media as (a) providing connection in a safe way, (b) a medium that amplified emotional intensity, (c) a key source for COVID-19 updates, and (d) as a needed time filler. Participants indicated that social media can be a helpful tool for maintaining social support and keeping up with important pandemic related updates during a global pandemic.


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