Background and aims: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused social and economic turmoil, which has led to enormous strain for many families. Past work with pandemic outbreaks suggests that media attention can increase anxiety and compensatory behaviors. Social isolation can lead to increase in online communication and parents who use social media may be affected by other people's emotions online through what is known as digital emotion contagion (DEC). The current study aimed to examine the role of DEC in the relationship between stress, concern about COVID-19, parental burnout and emotion regulation (ER).
Methods: In April 2020, an online survey was advertised in Social Media Parenting Groups and published on FIU Psychology online research system SONA. Data were analyzed using correlational analysis, linear and multiple linear regression, and moderation analysis.
Results: Concern about COVID-19 predicted stress, depression, and parental burnout. Susceptibility to DEC significantly increased the impact of stress on parental burnout. Having relatives infected with COVID-19 increased the effect of DEC on parental burnout. A higher level of ER buffered the relationship between emotion contagion and concern about COVID-19.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that susceptibility to digital emotion contagion may have a negative effect on parents. Digital emotion contagion may increase parental burnout and is tied to stress.
Prikhidko A, Long H and Wheaton MG (2020) The Effect of Concerns About COVID-19 on Anxiety, Stress, Parental Burnout, and Emotion Regulation: The Role of Susceptibility to Digital Emotion Contagion. Front. Public Health 8:567250. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.567250