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Merrill College Launches Global Study Of How Students Use Media During COVID-19

COLLEGE PARK (4/10/20) — The International Center for Media & the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism has teamed with over a dozen other universities in the United States and Canada, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia to launch a global study of how undergraduate and graduate students are using media during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study is investigating how students use media, across platforms, as providers of news and information, as educational tools, as sources of entertainment, as a means of communication with friends and family, and as ways to create and engage with their self-defined communities.

The “Media, Life & Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic” study is intended to offer unprecedented insights into how a global cohort of university students use communications technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they self-report socio-behavioral, psychological and economic effects of the crisis.

“Anecdotally we hear that college students around the world are turning to mainstream and social media to track information about the pandemic, but perhaps even more importantly, they are reaching out to social media — especially visual media — to seek companionship and to build community in ways otherwise unavailable to them while they are isolated and ‘sheltering at home,’ ” said Merrill College Professor Susan Moeller, the Director of the ICPMA and co-Principal Investigator of the study.

“The COVID-19 study is a way for researchers to discover what is happening around the world: To what extent are media part of the solution to the challenges faced by young people … but how much are media also part of the problem?”

Many countries and communities have levied different directives related to COVID-19, and in particular regarding physical or social distancing. There are also distinctions in the type and quantity of media accessed and available. The “COVID-19 Pandemic” survey aims to capture data during this time to understand media use, daily routines and the creation of community. The particular problems addressed in the research include those of media use, such as news and entertainment, and the adjustment of daily routines — including work, hobbies and socialization during the global pandemic.

This survey is intended to provide the University of Maryland and global researchers insight into the daily lives and routines of university students living around the world during this crisis. It will provide data related to demographics and media use, community building, and the degree to which individuals have been personally affected by the pandemic.

It is hoped that the dataset will enlighten researchers’ understanding of the degree to which media technologies are used to seek information and build community in times of global crisis. The dataset will capture the current global crisis through qualitative and quantitative questions to provide rich insight into the media habits and emotional well-being of global students.

If you are a professor at a university anywhere around the world and want your school to participate in this study, please contact researcher Bobbie Foster at for more information.

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