Study explores impacts of social distancing on youth

kid inside
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

After weeks of staying at home, Canadians are slowly beginning to see the impact of physical distancing on decelerating the spread of COVID-19. However, for some, prolonged social isolation amplifies feelings of disconnection and can result in negative psychological effects and disorders.

Technology has been touted as a convenient, adaptable alternative to in-person socialization. After all, shouldn't eating takeout with friends over a Zoom call be just as socially fulfilling as a dinner party?

As the principal investigator of the iBelong research study, Health Studies professor Shauna Burke is examining social media use and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on all aspects of health and wellbeing.

In collaboration with researchers at Western and Lakehead University, the study focuses on adolescents and young adults, a demographic who are simultaneously social media natives and particularly susceptible to the impacts of .

"Their wellbeing depends largely on everyday social interactions with, and validation by, peers. Because these in-person interactions are no longer possible due to ongoing school closures and physical distancing requirements, identifying effective ways to maintain is critical," Burke explained.

Phase 1 of the study, which concluded in April 2020, captured young people's attitudes and perceptions around , physical distancing as well as health and wellbeing.

Moving forward, Burke and her team plans to investigate the ways social media helps and hinders in overcoming the various impacts currently faced by young people.

"Our findings about the influence of social media on the wellbeing of young people, including their feelings about belonging and connectedness, are important and can be used to promote overall social and psychological wellbeing among young people now and in the future," she said.

This includes young Canadians' feelings toward physical distancing, as well as how and why they're complying with public health measures. The iBelong team hopes the information they collect will inform future outreach and intervention initiatives directed at adolescents and .

"We might be able to identify tangible, evidence-based strategies that can be used to promote physical distancing adherence, and overall health and well-being in this population," Burke said. "Keeping safe and healthy at home not only protects them, but it could help to protect the health-care system and those most vulnerable by reducing the spread of the virus."


Explore further

COVID-19 study: Impact of social distancing on older adults

Citation: Study explores impacts of social distancing on youth (2020, May 7) retrieved 15 July 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-explores-impacts-social-distancing-youth.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments