More people reported symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression during the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). They might have increased their social media use during the outbreak of COVID-19 compared to before COVID-19.
An online retrospective survey was conducted on a total sample of 10,963 participants. Social media use patterns before and during COVID-19, Social media addiction (SMA), and mental health problems (stress, anxiety, and depression) were assessed.
This study found that, compared with before COVID-19, weekly social media use was significantly increased during COVID-19 (from 17.2 to 21.4 h). Nearly 40% of SMA respondents increased their weekly social media use ≥3.5 h. The prevalence rate of was 6.8%, and the prevalence rates of moderate or severe stress, anxiety, and depression were 10.8%, 26.4%, and 18.2%, respectively, during COVID-19. Female gender, experiencing moderate or severe stress, and SMA were associated with increased weekly social media use ≥3.5 h. Male gender, experiencing moderate or severe stress, anxiety, depression, and increased weekly social media use ≥3.5 h were associated with SMA.
This study suggests a significant increase in social media use and a relatively high prevalence rate of SMA in China during COVID-19. Our findings identify factors associated with increased social media use and SMA that could be used to develop psychological interventions to prevent SMA during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.