U.S. adolescents’ attitudes toward school, social connection, media use, and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: Differences as a function of gender identity and school context

Drew P. Cingel, Alexis Re Lauricella, Lauren B. Taylor, Hannah R. Stevens, Sarah M. Coyne, Ellen Wartella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic changed school contexts and social opportunities dramatically for adolescents around the world. Thus, certain adolescents may have been more susceptible to the stress of the pandemic as a function of differences in schooling. We present data from 1256 United States adolescents (ages 14–16) to examine how the 2020–2021 school context (in-person, hybrid, or virtual) related to feelings of school satisfaction and success, social connection, mental health, and media use. We also examine differences as a function of gender identity. Results demonstrate that school context, particularly in-person compared to virtual schooling, was related to higher school satisfaction and academic success, stronger feelings of social connection and inclusion, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and less problematic media use. Interestingly, adolescents did seem to use media as a tool to support social connection when in hybrid or virtual school contexts, but they also reported higher rates of problematic media use, thus suggesting that media use needs to be examined more carefully to understand its role as a potential protective mechanism for adolescents’ social connection and mental health. These findings provide baseline information about how schools’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic may have created disparities among youth. These findings have implications for current school interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0276737
JournalPloS one
Volume17
Issue number10 October
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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