Social Media Use, Fake News and Mental Health during the Uncertain Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ukraine.Behav Sci (Basel). 2023 Apr 18; 13(4)BS
A sample of 351 adults (women/men 4:1) aged 18 to 60 participated in an online survey administered during the first two waves (15 March-25 April and 10 October-25 November 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine. The user ethnography profile was Generation Z (born in the 1990s), female (81.2%), Instagrammer (60.3%), unmarried (56.9%) and student (42.9%). An increased time spent on social media (3.18 h/day), searching for COVID-19-related information (1.01 h/day) after the first COVID-19 case and the observation of fake news that went viral (58.8%) decreased in the second wave. Alterations (increase or reduction) in sleep patterns (46.7%) and changes (increase or loss) in appetite (32.7%) affected participants' well-being, but only sleep ameliorated in the second wave. Mental health reports unveiled moderate perceived stress (PSS-10: 20.61 ± 1.13) and mild anxiety (GAD-7: 14.17 ± 0.22), which improved in the second wave. A higher prevalence of severe anxiety (8.5%) was found among individuals in the first survey (8.5%) than those in the second (3.3%). Social media counteracted physical distance policies and played as an immediate source of (mis)information for users, but also anticipated the impact of the most uncertain times of this COVID-19 physical health crisis on well-being and mental health.