How do adolescents navigate COVID-19 information, and why does it matter?

Astha Ramaiya, Pablo Villalobos, Effie Chipeta, Jairo Vanegas Lopez, Matilde Maddaleno, Xiayun Zuo, Eric Mafuta, Aimee Lulebo, Jakevia Green, Lisa Richardson, Kristin Mmari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The world has not seen a global health crisis as devastating as COVID-19 since the 1918 flu pandemic. While adults are more likely to become physically ill, COVID-19 has profound impacts on adolescents’ mental health and emotional well-being [1,2]. According to the WHO, adolescents are defined as those who are ages 10 to 19 [3]. During COVID-19, social distancing measures and school closures have not only led to significant educational disruptions but have also limited important opportunities for peer social connection, identity development, and independence [4,5]. Paramount to this global pandemic has also been the dissemination and use of accurate and reliable COVID-19 information to help curtail the spread of the virus [6-8]. From previous health emergencies and pandemics, we know that health information needs to be succinct, honest, valid and verifiable [6,9]. A systematic review during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic showed that for people to follow preventative practices they had to have: 1) trust in public officials and the source of information, 2) increased perceived severity about the disease, 3) knowledge about the disease, and 4) greater media exposure [10]. In the current pandemic, people have been using social media and networks to obtain information about COVID-19, which means that the information may not always be accurate. This produces negative effects on the official national and international information. Without including the “bubble filters”, the algorithm associates the preference of a user and unites it with that of other similar users, producing a loop of similar content preventing the user from seeing other different sources to assess the validity of the claim [11]. This affects the possible dissemination of erroneous, alarmist, and exaggerated information that can cause fear, stress, depression, and anxiety in both healthy and sick people [11].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number03110
JournalJournal of global health
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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