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The double-edged sword of social media usage during the COVID-19 pandemic: demographical and cultural analyses

Khaled A. Alshare (AIS Department, College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)
Murad Moqbel (Department of Information Systems, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg Campus, Edinburg, Texas, USA)
Mohammad I. Merhi (Department of Decision Sciences, Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, Indiana, USA)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 30 June 2022

Issue publication date: 27 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

This exploratory research aims to (1) investigate the bright and dark sides of social media use during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) explore the impact of demographic factors on social media usage; and (3) assess the effects of cultural dimensions on social media usage.

Design/methodology/approach

The data are collected through an online survey. Factors derived from grounded theories and models such as affordance theory and Hofstede's cultural framework were considered. Spearman correlation and nonparametric analysis were used to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The results revealed that social media usage was positively associated with healing and affiliation, and negatively associated with self-control. There are also positive associations between social media usage and sharing information related to COVID-19 without verification, perceived reliability of COVID-19 information on social media and relapse. The impact of demographic and cultural factors indicated significant effects of gender, age, marital status, educational level, power distance and collectivism on social media usage, sharing information, perceived information reliability, healing and affiliation.

Originality/value

This study contributes to technology affordances by examining social media's positive and negative affordances in a new context (COVID-19 pandemic). From the positive side, this study explores the use of social media for healing and affiliation. As for the negative impact of social media during the pandemic, this study assesses the user's addiction to social media use (relapse) and perception of the social media information reliability and information sharing without verification. It is among few research endeavors conducted in a non-Western country. This study also examines the influence of demographic and cultural factors on social media users. The results provide insights for both researchers and policymakers regarding social media usage.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Conflicts of interest: None Declared.

Citation

Alshare, K.A., Moqbel, M. and Merhi, M.I. (2023), "The double-edged sword of social media usage during the COVID-19 pandemic: demographical and cultural analyses", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 197-220. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEIM-07-2021-0292

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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