The COVID-19 pandemic and international students: A mixed-methods approach to relationships between social media use, social support, and mental health
Keywords:COVID-19, Pandemic, Social Media, Mental health, international students
The COVID-19 pandemic has added significant stress to international students in the United States who already face myriad challenges in adjusting to their host country. We used a mixed-method approach combining survey and interview research to analyze how international students’ social media use and perceived social support/adjustment are associated with their sense of mental well-being when taking into account demographic and social psychological characteristics. Our findings show that international students spent an increased amount of time on social media during the pandemic for both networking and information seeking purposes. Those who use social media primarily for networking purposes reported better mental health, whereas social media use for information seeking was not significantly associated with their mental health. Social support was an important predictor of international students’ social media use. This study provides scholarly and policy implications for supporting international students during a public health crisis.
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