How teens feel about COVID-19 social behaviors

July 14, 2020

Social distancing and refraining from hoarding behavior have been common social behaviors since the beginning of the pandemic. A report examines how teenagers are engaging in these pandemic-related behaviors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many adolescents unable to attend graduation ceremonies, go to prom, and experience many other quintessential adolescent hallmarks. The rapid closing of society had psychological ramifications for everyone, and a report in JAMA Pediatrics looks at the psychological impact on teenagers.1

Investigators ran a self-reported survey from March 20, 2020 to March 22, 2020 with a population-based sample. Teenagers were recruited via social media to do the anonymous survey. Teenagers were eligible to complete the survey if they lived in the United States, had internet access, and were aged 13 to 18 years.

A total of 770 teenagers completed the survey. Nearly 75% of the respondents were girls and the average age of a participant was 16.3 years. A majority of the teenagers (68.6%) said that they were not doing pure social distancing, but 89.4% said that they watched the news for COVID-19 news and 87.7% reported disinfecting their home daily. Roughly 20% of the respondents said that they had engaged in hoarding of supplies. Teenagers who said they thought about the greater severity of COVID-19 exhibited more social distancing, disinfecting, and news monitoring. However, they were almost more likely to engage in hoarding. Adolescents who felt greater social responsibility were more likely to disinfect and watch the news, but were also less likely to hoard supplies. Teenagers who reported greater self-interest said they were more likely to hoard and less likely to social distance. More trust in society was linked to less hoarding as well.

The researchers concluded that talking to teenagers about the societal implications of certain actions such as social distancing as well as the severity of the disease could be important to changing the pandemic behavior of teenagers.

Reference

1. Oosterhoff B, Palmer CA. Attitudes and psychological factors associated with news monitoring, social distancing, disinfecting, and hoarding behaviors among US adolescents during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. JAMA Pediatr. June 29, 2020. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1876