Covid-19 Study on Digital Media and the Coronavirus Pandemic

Internet Use and Society Division
Department of Communication and Media Research
University of Zurich

Last updated: Wednesday, April 30, 2021

A project by:
Eszter Hargittai, Minh Hao Nguyen, Jaelle Fuchs, Jonathan Gruber Will Marler, Amanda Hunsaker and Gökçe Karaoglu
in collaboration with:
Marco Gui, Tiziano Geroza, Elissa Redmiles, Marina Micheli, John H. Evans, Kerry Dobransky, and others

In April and May 2020, we collected survey data from adults in the United States, Switzerland and Italy to ask them about their experiences during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here, we showcase some of our findings and point to our related work elsewhere.

A few notes on methods:

  • The dates of our first wave of data collection were: USA April 4-8, 2020; Italy April 16-17, 2020; Switzerland April 17-24.
    • We contracted with the online survey firm Cint to carry out our data collection.
    • In the US, we quota sampled on age, gender, education and region. We have 1,374 valid responses. People range in age from 18-82 (mean: 46), 54% female, all 50 states plus DC represented.
    • In Italy, we quota sampled on age and gender. We have 983 valid responses. People range in age from 18-81 (mean: 50), 51% female.
    • In Switzerland, we quota sampled on age, gender and country region distributing the survey in the country's three national languages (German, French, Italian). We have 1,350 valid responses. People range in age from 18-85 (mean: 46), 50% female, all 26 cantons are represented.

  • The dates of our second wave of data collection were: May 4-9, 2020 for two separate surveys in the US. These were both quota sampled on age, gender and education. The sample sizes are 1,551 and 1,593.

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    Gerosa, T., Gui, M., Hargittai, E., & Nguyen, M.H. (2021) (Mis)informed during COVID-19: How Education Level and Information Sources Contribute to Knowledge Gaps. International Journal of Communication.

    Dobransky, K. & Hargittai, E. (2021). Piercing the Pandemic Social Bubble: Disability and Social Media Use About Covid-19. American Behavioral Scientist.

    Nguyen, M. H., Gruber, J., Fuchs, J., Marler, W., Hunsaker, A., & Hargittai, E. (2021). Staying connected while physically apart: Digital communication when face-to-face interactions are limited. New Media & Society.

    Dobransky, K. & Hargittai, E. (2020) People with Disabilities during Covid-19.Contexts.

    Hargittai, E., Redmiles, E., Vitak, J. & Zimmer, M. (2020) Americans' willingness to adopt a COVID-19 tracking app: The role of app distributor First Monday 25:11

    Evans, J.H. & Hargittai, E. (2020) Who Doesn't Trust Fauci? The Public's Belief in the Expertise and Shared Values of Scientists in the Covid-19 Pandemic. Socius.

    Nguyen, M.H., Gruber, J., Fuchs, J., Marler, W., Hunsaker, A., & Hargittai, E. (2020). Changes in Digital Communication During the COVID-19 Global Pandemic: Implications for Digital Inequality and Future Research. Social Media + Society.

    Hargittai, E., Nguyen, M.H., Fuchs, J., Gruber, J., Marler, W., Hunsaker, A., & Karaoglu, G. (2020). From Zero to a National Data Set in Two Weeks: Reflections on a COVID-19 Collaborative Survey Project. Social Media + Society.

    Hargittai, E., & Nguyen, M.H. 2020. How Switzerland kept in touch during Covid-19. June 19.

    Evans, J.H. & Hargittai, E. 2020. Why Would Anyone Distrust Anthony Fauci?. Scientific American June 7.

    Redmiles, E., Kaptchuk, G. & Hargittai, E. The Success of Contact Tracing Doesn't Just Depend on Privacy. Wired. May 23.

    Hargittai, E. & Thouvenin, F. 2020. Tracking-App: Die Chancen stehen gut Neue Zürcher Zeitung. May 2.

    Hargittai, E. & Redmiles, E. 2020. Will Americans Be Willing to Install COVID-19 Tracking Apps? Scientific American. April 28.

    Working Papers

    Hunsaker, A., & Hargittai, E. (2020). Age-Related Differences in Home Experiences and Worries During COVID-19. December 5.

    Data Bits

    Questions? Contact