Recent research, conducted in February 2021 by an academic team including the University of Roehampton’s Professor Cecilia Essau, has been highlighted online by the World Health Organization.

The research found that, regardless of country of residence, the COVID-19 outbreak has had a detrimental effect on adolescent internet use and psychosocial well-being.

Efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including prolonged lockdowns and social distancing, have substantially changed everyday life for so many people across the world. For adolescents and young people, they have had to manage this stress alongside dealing with developmental changes and characteristics of their age.

The research team asked adolescents from several countries, including India, Malaysia, Mexico, and the U.K., to complete online questionnaires asking questions about the internet, social media, gaming, depression, loneliness, escapism, and COVID-19.

The results show that adolescents generally have increased their use of social media sites and streaming services. Further, those who scored highly on gaming addiction, compulsive internet use, and social media use also reported high scores of depression, loneliness, escapism, poor sleep quality, and anxiety related to the pandemic.

The findings indicate that, regardless of country of residence, the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant effect on adolescent internet use and psychosocial well-being. Looking forward, there is a need to address the distress caused by the pandemic and reduce the effects of these maladaptive coping strategies.

You can also view the full paper here.

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