As the number of days in social isolation grows, so do the hours I spend on my phone. I’m- scared to check my screen time these days. Even during my attempts to be productive, it’s hard not to keep scrolling on TikTok or Twitter. Social media is ever-present in our lives, especially now, and that’s why these platforms have a responsibility to encourage kids to stay home.
As young college students, a lot of us feel invincible. However, people of all ages can spread COVID-19 without even knowing they have it. This makes it important for media platforms to get young adults to take social distancing seriously by making it “cool” to stay home.
A huge part of social media is mob mentality. Everyone wants to be liked, and social media gives you immediate validation from just one double tap and a heart. So people can be easily influenced by the “cool” thing to do on social media, if it’s what will get them likes. For some, the purpose of Instagram is to show off the cool things you do with your friends. But now, because of the coronavirus, it’s a big task to convince these people not to be social for their social media.
Instagram recently added a “Stay Home” sticker so all stories with that sticker on them are added to one big community story made up of people you follow. It’s an attempt at solidarity and encourages users to post stories from home. While I’m not sure of its overall effectiveness, seeing other people add to this group story makes you want to add to it and post a picture from home.
Popular TikToker Charli D’Amelio created a dance called the “Distance Dance,” basically to encourage her followers to stay home and take social distancing seriously. While a TikTok dance doesn’t seem like it would have much consequence, many kids look up to Charli. Dances on TikTok go viral quickly and tons of kids recreate Charli’s dances every day.
Facebook created a Coronavirus Information Center to show on the top of user’s news feeds to encourage social distancing and stop the spread of misinformation. The center is helpful and Facebook did a good job of consolidating information into one place. While my generation doesn’t use Facebook as much, it’s important for all platforms to keep this issue at the center or top of their sites, so as to serve as a constant reminder.
Twitter announced it will ban “unsafe” tweets or misinformation on their platform, but as an avid Twitter user, I still see a lot of misinformation. The ban seems to be too hard to enforce. When misinformation could mean life or death, it’s important Twitter and other platforms continue to scan posts and flag potentially dangerous information as quarantine time wears on.
Because these platforms have so many users, especially young ones, they have a responsibility to help during the pandemic. Many people go to Facebook or Twitter for news. Spreading correct information and emphasizing the importance of social distancing is a huge way social media can help in the fight against the coronavirus.
All the major platforms are at least doing something, but they could do a lot more. Social media platforms have to keep encouraging people to stay aware and stay at home, whether it be through hashtags, dances, stickers or tags. While it may seem silly, it’s a great way to create a sense of community and still try to have fun while stuck at home.