The media and (dis)information diets of Portuguese adolescents during the Pandemic
ICCA 2021 - 5th International Conference on Childhood and Adolescence
Media and information diets of children and adolescents amid a new media ecology characterized by the mass introduction of digital technologies in everyday life has raised a series of concerns: namely, its potential effects on children’s development and well-being, exposition to harmful or misleading content, intra- and intergenerational divides and conflicts, and the adequacy of media and digital literacies in media rich and informationally saturated environments. This paper focus on the evolution of such media and information diets during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Portugal. Compared to other cohorts, the analysis shows that Portuguese adolescents adhere in greater proportion to different practices and media formats. The lockdown caused by the pandemic caused abrupt changes in social and communication practices. Media consumption has changed very significantly, regardless of the degree of connectivity. Consultation of online news, use of streaming platforms, television viewing and videoconferencing services, among others, registered exponential increases in use during lockdown. Furthermore, among the most used sources for information about COVID-19, search engines, Facebook and Instagram stand out. However, many respondents say they found disinformation content to a greater degree during lockdown than in the previous period, have difficulty distinguishing what is true and false about the Coronavirus, and a significant percentage say they avoid news about the situation. The majority disagrees that the media is exaggerating the seriousness of the pandemic, but several respondents report that they are confused as to what they can do in response to the crisis caused by COVID-19. The results suggest deepening challenges to young people in how they consume and deal with media and informational content, and mobilize their media literacy competencies and skills, in a pandemic context where digital technologies are reaffirmed as their main channel to connect with the outside world.