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 Table of Contents  
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 232-236

Psychological impact of COVID-19 on teens belonging to a social media group


1 Madras School of Social Work, Egmore, Chennai, India
2 St. Isabel Hospital, Mylapore, Chennai, India
3 Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai, India

Date of Submission10-Aug-2020
Date of Decision09-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance22-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ms. K Geethika Sai
Madras School of Social Work, 3B, Ramaniyum Towers, 20, Greenways Road, R.A. Puram, Chennai 600 028, Tamilnadu.
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jod.jod_77_20

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  Abstract 

Aims: To evaluate the psychological impact of COVID-19 on teens in a small WhatsApp group from Chennai. Materials and Methods: The study population comprised of teenagers, aged 12 to 20 years, who belong to a WhatsApp group. The questions were framed and developed based on the transitional impact scale which has high test–retest reliability. Through the WhatsAppgroup, the teens were informed about the survey. Those who were willing to participate were provided the website link to fill the questionnaire. Fisher’s exact tests were used to assess differences in proportions wherever applicable. Results: Among the 320 participants, 16.7% of them were boys and 83.3% were girls, and the mean age of boys and girls was 16.2 ± 2.1years and 15.6 ± 1.8 years, respectively. More than 40% of teens expressed that they often felt stressed out. Teens of both the genders reported getting irritated by small normal things (34.1%), thought they were helpless (32.8%), sometimes they felt like a burden to people around them (27.8%), and 36.9% reported feeling lonely or left out often. Regarding usage of electronic devices, 47.7% of girls and 58.5% of boys were always on any one of the electronic devices like mobiles, tabs, laptops, television, etc. Similarly, more than 50% of the boys and 60% of the girls slept 6–8h during this pandemic situation. Conclusion: This study shows that this life-changing transitional event has made a massive impact on the daily routine of these teenagers. Parents, health care professionals, and educators have to make sure that the teens come to terms with the current realities of the situation and to make use of the government support programs.

Keywords: COVID-19, impact, psychology, teens, WHO


How to cite this article:
Geethika Sai K, Jalaja R, Amutha A, Venkatesan U, Anjana RM, Unnikrishnan R. Psychological impact of COVID-19 on teens belonging to a social media group. J Diabetol 2021;12:232-6

How to cite this URL:
Geethika Sai K, Jalaja R, Amutha A, Venkatesan U, Anjana RM, Unnikrishnan R. Psychological impact of COVID-19 on teens belonging to a social media group. J Diabetol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Apr 20];12:232-6. Available from: https://www.journalofdiabetology.org/text.asp?2021/12/2/232/312674




  Introduction Top


The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency in January 2020, and at the same time, India had its first case reported.[1] The current scenario in India as of July 15 is 331,146 active cases with 24,915 deaths, and 612,814 were either cured/discharged.[2] Initially, a nationwide lockdown started for 21 days, so that the existing health system gets strengthened and to discontinue the occurrence of a rise in new cases in India. Later on, due to the continuous spread of the infection, the government announced strict lockdowns and self-containment wherever necessary to curb the epidemic. Complete isolation and shut down/delay in starting schools/colleges and universities created a profound impact on the mindsets of the teenagers and young adults. There are many studies and reports from other countries on the psychological implications of the COVID on college, university, and medical students.[3],[4],[5] However, very few or no studies were done on adolescents and teenagers in India who are facing this ongoing virulent epidemic. In a small pilot survey, we have tried to evaluate the psychological impact of COVID-19 on teens in a small WhatsApp group from Chennai.


  Materials and Methods Top


The study population comprised of teenagers (aged 12–20 years) who were all in a WhatsApp group named “TS.” The questions were framed and developed [Table 1] based on the transitional impact scale,[6] which has high test–retest reliability.[7] Through the WhatsAppgroup, the teens were informed about the survey. Those who were willing to participate and gave consent (through WhatsApp) were provided the website link to fill the questionnaire. The Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC) exempted the study from a formal review in view of the anonymous data (https://surveyheart.com/form/5f01f288baec6272bfa76297#welcome).
Table 1: Psychological assessment scales of teens during COVID-19

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In all, 320 teens were interested in and completed the survey online. The 5-point Likert scale was used as options for the developed questions [Table 1], and they are as follows: never, rarely, sometimes, often, and always. Statistical analysis was done by SPSS, version 21.0. Continuous variables were given as mean ± standard deviation, whereas categorical variables were presented as proportions. Chi-square tests and Fisher’s exact tests were used to assess the differences in proportions wherever applicable. P < 0.05 were considered significant. The internal consistency and validity were checked using reliability analysis (or Cronbach’s alpha) and factor analysis, respectively.


  Results Top


Among the 320 participants, 16.7% of them were boys and 83.3% were girls, and 0.9% were nonbinary/genderqueer. The mean age of boys and girls was 16.2 ± 2.1 years and 15.6 ± 1.8years, respectively.

We checked the reliability of the questions developed for their internal consistency, and the Cronbach’s alpha is 0.82. The validity checked through factor analysis explains 61% of the total variance in the variables, which were included as components.

[Table 1] lists the questions answered by the teens. The table reports that 42% of the teens felt hopeless at least some of the time, and they often had less interest in doing daily activities. More than 40% of teens expressed that they often felt stressed out. Regarding appetite, 26.4% of boys thought that they always had a poor appetite or overate, while 28.4% of girls often had this appetite problem. Girls (29.5%) were often paranoid, whereas only sometimes boys (28.3%) have a fear of the current situation. Both boys and girls miss going out sometimes (31.2%) and had thoughts about their life being in danger (29.7%). A third (34.0%) of all boys surveyed reported constant (always) changes in mood, and a third (33.3%) of all girls reported occasional (sometimes) changes in mood. A third (32.8%) of teens felt that sometimes they find it difficult to make decisions. Teens of both the genders reported getting irritated by small normal things (34.1%), thought they were helpless (32.8%), sometimes they felt like a burden to people around them (27.8%), and 36.9% reported feeling lonely or left out often.

[Figure 1] shows the usage of electronic devices by teens during this COVID situation. It shows that 47.7% of girls and 58.5% of boys were always on any one of the electronic devices like mobiles, tabs, laptops, television, etc. [Figure 2] shows the number of hours slept by the teens during the COVID situation. More than 50% of the boys and 60% of the girls slept 6–8h during this situation.
Figure 1: Percentage on the usage of electronic devices among teens during COVID-19 situation

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Figure 2: Sleeping hours of teens during COVID-19 situation

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  Discussion Top


After the 1918 flu pandemic, almost after a century, we all have been devastated by COVID-19. This infectious viral infection has caused pain and suffering, fear, and anxiety among all kinds of people, and each one is affected differently. Children, teenagers, and college students are the most affected. The above pilot study has, in a small way, showing how teenagers and college students were affected. This life-changing transitional event has made a massive impact on the daily routine of these young individuals.

The above-mentioned psychological impact data showed that boys and girls were equally affected by the pandemic. Despite the current condition, it is good to see that 50% of the teens were able to sleep for 6–8h. However, the teens were spending considerable amounts of time on electronic devices, which is deleterious to their eyes and also to their psychological and mental health.

In spite of the period of study encompassing their vacation time (April and May), the teens were locked down inside the house due to COVID. They could not enjoy their usual summer holidays after 10 months of concentrating on their studies. Complete lockdown has led them to boredom and irritation, and later on, to distress, fear, and anxiety. The children and teens also feared that they might lose their loved ones to COVID. The parents and elders at home were also distressed, and a lot of pressures on daily routine life created a lot of psychological and mental burden on teenagers (https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-lockdown-covid-19-taking-an-emotional-toll-on-children/article31822539.ece). Many similar surveys administered during this pandemic from across the world have also shown the deleterious effects of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns on the mental and psychological well-being of adolescents.[8] It has been suggested that the mental health of young individuals should be monitored by the parents and involve them in daily activities during epidemics.[4]

The government should instruct all the educational institutions to implement the coping strategies suggested by the WHO (https://www.who.int/campaigns/connecting-the-world-to-combat-coronavirus/healthyathome/healthyathome---mental-health) to manage the current situation. Coping strategies at home and from the government are the need of the hour to minimize the psychological burden among teens. One study revealed that the students adopted policies like religious and acceptance coping to combat the adverse effect of COVID on mental health.[3] Understanding adolescents’ motivations to engage in social distancing may inform strategies to increase social distancing engagement, reduce pathogen transmission, and identify individual differences in mental and social health during the COVID-19 pandemic.[9] Grubic et al.[5] have emphasized the need for further research examining the impact of COVID-19 on student psychological and mental health.

The strength of the study is that it is the first on the psychological impact of COVID on teens in India, and this pilot study can serve as the starting point for more extensive studies on the topic. The major limitation is that a previously validated tool was not used in this survey.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has launched numerous e-learning projects and initiatives that serve as valuable resources for students. The launch of the e-VIDYA initiative, a program that would help a unifier of all modes (online, digital, on-air) of education in the country, allowing for smooth, multimodel access. As part of AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan program, for adolescent stress, institutional-based support programs like online education, webinars with experts, fitness sessions, learning life skills, and peer-to-peer support have been launched (https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/equitable-access-for-the-educatio-68011n-sector-in-a-pandemic-stricken-india-68011/; http://manodarpan.mhrd.gov.in/).

In conclusion, parents, health care professionals, and educators have to make sure that the teens come to terms with the current realities of the situation and to make use of the Manodarpan programs available on the MHRD website to educate them and fruitfully channelize their energies during this lockdown.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the teens who participated in this study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

The authors hereby declare there is no potential conflict of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations. Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-01-2020-statement-on-the-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov), accessed on April 7, 2020.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. COVID-19 Dashboard. Available from: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/, accessed on July 15, 2020.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Salman M, Asif N, Ul Mustafa Z, Khan T, Shehzadi N, Hussain K, et al. Psychological impact of COVID-19 on Pakistani university students and how they are coping. medRxiv. doi: 10.1101/2020.05.21.20108647.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Cao W, Fang Z, Hou G, Han M, Xu X, Dong J, et al. The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry Res 2020;287:112934.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Grubic N, Badovinac S, Johri AM Student mental health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: A call for further research and immediate solutions. Int J Soc Psychiatry 2020;66:517-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Svob C, Brown NR, Reddon JR, Uzer T, Lee PJ The transitional impact scale: Assessing the material and psychological impact of life transitions. Behav Res Methods 2014;46:448-55.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Uzer T Validity and reliability testing of the transitional impact scale. Stress Health2020;36:478-86.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
YoungMinds. Coronavirus: Impact on young people with mental health needs. 2020. Available from: https://youngminds.org.uk/media/3708/coronavirus-report_march2020.pdf, accessed on July 12, 2020.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Oosterhoff B, Palmer CA, Wilson J, Shook N Adolescents’ motivations to engage in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic: Associations with mental and social health. J Adolesc Health 2020;1-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
    


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