COVID-19 And The Upside Of Social Media

Social media might have its downsides and risks for adolescents, but the fact that it offers the ability to stay in constant touch and actively interact in the face of an infectious virus is a big plus.

6 March 2020 | Press

On January 30th, the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus a global health emergency. Since then, it has made its way around the globe, and there have been cases reported in all countries where Mentor has offices.

As an organization that works with youth development, we are constantly thinking about the safety of young people. Before COVID-19, we had other concerns to consider, such as the effect that social media has on the well-being and mental health of young people. This included being cautious about expanding the use of social media in our programs.

According to the Pew Research Center, one in four teenagers feel that social media has negative impact on their life. That is something that Mentor takes seriously. Even if there is no clear consensus about social media’s impact on young people’s well-being, a quarter of young people is a quarter too many.

Over the past weeks, our concern has turned to the risk of COVID-19 infection with “no known effective treatment”. Again, social media has played an ambivalent role. On one hand, it has stoked anxiety about a pandemic, but, on the other hand, it has kept us all up to date on the most recent developments. Either way, media, in general, has had a hugely impactful role.

For Mentor, it has meant that we have been able to keep our organization running even with colleagues that usually share an office working from home. It has meant that both mentor and mentee have been able to keep in touch and even meet virtually face-to-face without the risk of infection.

We tend to believe that the more time we spend on social media, the more opportunities we miss to develop real relationships. In the case of COVID-19, social media has actually given us an opportunity to continue our work, as best we can, to support young people involved in our programs.

Click here for an infographic database reflecting the latest updates on COVID-19.