College Students’Media Habits, Concern for Themselves and Others, and Mental Health in the Era of COVID-19


COVID-19, mental health, social media, television, video games


The COVID-19 pandemic has entirely disrupted college students’ education plans, often their physical location, and it remains elusive when life will return to pre-pandemic normalcy. The current study examined changing media use patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the effect of these patterns on feelings of concern regarding one’s future and society, and the moderating roles of anxiety and depression in relations. Seventy-four college students (70% female; 55% White, 24% Pell-grant eligible) completed an online survey assessing time spent on TV, social media, and video game use in spring of 2019 (T1) and spring of 2020 (T2). Results revealed TV and video game, but not social media, use increased from T1 to T2, and change in TV use positively predicted an increased concern about society. Further, moderation analyses showed increased social media use raised concern for one’s future at lower levels of anxiety. Change in social media use raised concern for society at higher levels of depression. This study advances our understanding of college students’ interactions with media during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting some types of media may have been used as coping mechanisms with various effects on concern for self and others. Mental health can be salient to these relations.

Original Publication Citation

Fraser, A.M.,Stockdale, L.M., Bryce, C.I., & Alexander, B.L. (in press). Young adults’ media habits, concern for themselves and others, and mental health in the era of COVID-19.Journal of Popular Media Culture. IF2.68.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Popular Media Culture




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor