A study titled “Social Media & COVID-19 – a Global Study of Digital Crisis Interaction among Gen Z and Millennials” revealed that younger people’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was shaped by their curated and shared “crisis narratives” through social media.
Professor of Digital Communications, Globalisation and Digital Policy at the University of Melbourne Ingrid Volkmer with Wunderman Thompson, Pollfish and the World Health Organization, conducted the study across 24 countries with over 23,000 social media users aged between 18 and 40 years.
“To create their own “crisis narratives” younger citizens navigate social media, national media, search sites and messaging apps,” said Professor Volkmer who says these young people are very aware of “fake news”.
“They engage with peer communities, science and health experts, and – across all countries – also with the social media content of the World Health Organization.”
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube are the top platforms used, although the study also shows that younger citizens use several platforms simultaneously, both in Western countries and in developing countries like Nigeria.
According to Elena Altieri, Behavioural Insights Lead at the World Health Organization, these insights help to understand the information-seeking behaviours in young people.
“This research has highlighted in particular what information [younger people] trust; what they question; who they share information with and how they respond to mis- or disinformation,” wrote Ms Altieri as part of the foreword of the report.