This study sets out to determine the media dependency preference of medical and nursing undergraduates in Imo State University, Orlu Campus during the first wave of the corona virus pandemic which resulted in a lockdown globally. It further sought to ascertain the perception of the respondents towards the use of social media for health communication vis-à-vis the pandemic.
Using the purposive and available sampling technique, 250 students were sampled for this study from about 500 students which formed the population of the research area while the media dependency and technological determinism theories provided the theoretical foundation. A major finding of the research was that most of the students depended on the social media platforms for news and information concerning the pandemic when compared to the conventional media. Another finding was that the respondents said that the social media played a positive role in the fight against the virus and thus, they subscribed to full and unrestricted use of the social media for health information and communication in any eventuality of future pandemic.
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- Media Dependency
- Technological Determinism
- Social Media
Health is wealth. It is one of the basic needs of man. It is the heartbeat of life. Little wonder the human race is always in continuous and perpetual search for innovations in the health sector so as to preserve and prolong live. However, sound health regrettably, is one of the things most underrated in contemporary society by those who have been fortunate to stay sickness free. But the truth remains that the importance of a healthy body cannot be overstated. Even for a nation prone to wars and other external confrontations, a healthy population is even more necessary to them than having a stronger and mightier army who is weak and fragile in health.
Batta (2008, p.97) asserts:
“...because health is very important to all manners of people – child, man, woman, the young and old, health journalism is attracting the interest of media professionals and the attention of journalism scholars”.
He further adds that,
“...a cursory examination of the media of mass communication: television, radio, newspaper and magazines does show several areas of needs”
These needs represent a clarion call for more research in issues bothering on health reportage, coverage or communication. And there is no better time than now with the world battling a pandemic: the novel Covid-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic, a new viral disease, has taken the world by surprise and it has ravaged the world with reckless abandon. The virus, which was first detected on December 31st, 2019 in Wuhan Province in China, has since spread more than a wildfire across the world leading to the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th, 2020 declaring it a pandemic. This declaration as well as the pandemic itself threw the world into frenzy of panic. The need for information on what the virus was and the various ways to avoid and curb its rampaging spread grew unimaginably as would be expected.
Moreover, media dependency theory as enunciated by Sandra Ball-Rockeach and Melvin DeFleur in 1976 states that,
...in times of emergencies or crises individuals tend to depend more on the media to reduce their anxieties or even confirm their fears.
And the outbreak of Covid-19 was nothing short of a health emergency. Accordingly, focus was shifted to the mass media as the fourth estate of the realm which are expected and socially responsible for providing information to the society. However, this time unlike in the 1976s when the postulations were made, it was not only the conventional mass media in operation; the social media was well and truly alive.
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