Psychological Impacts of Quarantine and Social Media’s Impacts During a Pandemic
What are the positive and negative psychological impacts of quarantine? Is social media helping or harming people’s mental health during quarantine?
April 16, 2020
On March 30th, 2020, the Tustin Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Education met and passed an emergency resolution in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The TUSD Board of Education voted to extend school closures and continue distance learning from Monday, March 23rd, through Friday, May 1st.
Then, on April 1st, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond directed all California schools to remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
As every day and every week continues to give nothing but worse news, Californians have been instructed to limit their time outside and to self-isolate at home for as long as possible. This means adults and children are having to put their life on pause as the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With adults and children stuck at home together, quarantine life is going to affect both demographics in different ways.
For adults, especially teachers and parents, quarantine means balancing different lives at the same time in the same place. Parents are having to maintain their jobs, homeschool their children and monitor the condition of the pandemic.
In a similar way, children, especially students, are going to feel the effects of isolation depression as social activities are getting cancelled, like prom, graduation and class trips. In addition, students are going to have to learn to transition to online school as distance learning is becoming the new normal.
“For most people, I think the positives are having the flexibility to do what I want, when I want,” said sophomore Jake Golden. “Although I don’t do this, I could wake up at 12 p.m., and finish my work at 10 p.m. One negative to this entire process is the challenge to learn. Due to not being able to show a teacher something in person, teaching styles have changed. There are many unknowns to this process where time is the only solution. We just have to wait until we know what will happen in the future.”
Whether it’s an adult or a child, quarantine is going to have its impacts and effects. With California put on a “Safer at Home” order for the foreseeable future, quarantine and social distancing is going to throw a wrench in people’s lives.
When The Lancet did a review of the psychological impacts of quarantine, their “studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma.”
Humans have the natural desire for the ability to make decisions, be in control, have a sense of community, connect with one
another, and to have a productive purpose from day-to-day. Quartz contacted Frank McAndrew, an evolutionary psychologist at Knox College in Illinois who notes that “‘being quarantined gives one a sense of being at the mercy of other people and other uncontrollable forces such as an epidemic. This leads to a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty about the future that can be very unsettling.’”
However, there are some positives to look at for quarantine.
Although one can feel lost and hopeless, quarantine can be used as a time of uniting and connecting with one another. Quarantine can be a time where people spend more time with their families at home, learn a new skill, try out a new hobby, declutter their homes, finally get to catch up on that television show they have been planning on watching, get creative or plan their future after quarantine. This pandemic is going to change people’s lifestyles, but people can still regain a hold on their life by taking up new projects and things to do to keep busy and to stay connected with one another.
“The positives during quarantine is I can catch up on things like my Girl Scout Gold [Award] since that takes up a lot of time and effort,” said junior Jenny Lozano. “I can also get back into hobbies that I enjoy like working out, cooking, painting or watching shows that I never got the chance to [watch]. The negatives is, of course, I can’t go outside, see friends or hang out at public places like Disneyland – my second home – or visit family. My friends and I for sure miss each other, but we try to call and video chat often to keep in touch or do something together online [to try] to make the most out of it.”
In this age of technology, social media has a role to play during a pandemic.
What makes this pandemic different from the previous pandemics that America has faced is that this pandemic takes place in the era of social media and advanced technology, which provides good and bad news.
As healthcare and government officials broadcast daily announcements while monitoring the pandemic, misinformation is spreading faster than the virus. This misinformation is detrimental to the health and safety of many. Additionally, the wealth of information on social media can cause an even more panic surrounding this pandemic.
Nonetheless, this information is vital in the development of vaccines and research. Plus, social media can be used to unite one another when the world seems divided under quarantine.
Laura Whitmore, the host of the dating show “Love Island”, writes in Glamour how “as our real world got scarier, the internet got, well, a little bit nicer. I’ve seen some shaming on Twitter for people who have been going out even in the lockdown. But in the large part, this space we have created feels safe, feels inclusive. We are checking in and we are talking to each other. I feel part of a community that brings us together, not divides. […] I am more alone than ever, but I don’t feel lonely, as there is a whole community out there that I’m part of. That I want to be part of.”
Social media is being used as a platform for high-quality journalism, important threads from healthcare and government officials, relatable stories about working from home, announcements of school and event closures and an escape from the pandemic outside people’s homes.
While there are two sides to everything with its positives and negatives, everyone has a part to play in this pandemic. Stay home, stay healthy, and stay safe!