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Mass Media and the War Against Covid-19



 2.1 Conceptual Review

In this section, I have briefly reviewed mass media, pandemic in general, and COVID-19 pandemic in particular for conceptual clarity.

Mass media

Cambridge English dictionary defines, ‘mass media as forms of media that allow people to communicate and share information using the internet or mobile phones’. Mass media are the collection of websites and applications to create develop and online communities for networking and sharing of information (Gowey, 2014).

Mass media are technologies that create highly interactive platforms to enable people to communicate, share, collaborate and modify user-generated content; thereby providing a platform for real-time virtual interactions (Kalpan and Haenlein, 2010, as cited in Power, 2014). People can interact, communicate and send important messages and contents more widely than ever before using Web 2.0. Mass media are Internet- based applications that build on this technology, which enable users to interact and exchange content and information (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).

Forms of Mass media: There are six forms of mass media. To mention them (a) Collaborative projects, (b) blogs and microblogs, (c) content communities, (d) social networking sites, (e) virtual game worlds, and (f) virtual communities (Kalpan & Haenlein,2010 as cited in Dao, 2015). Social Networking sites, Blogs, Microblogs, and media sharing are the most popular form of mass media

Blogs: Blogs are like web pages where people can share ideas, information, and insights. The attractive feature of the blog is that it is bidirectional and you get feedback from the readers in a comment (Harvey, 2014). These days, many traditional media have adopted blog-like features in order to engage the reader on their news.

Twitter is an example of microblogs but some scholars also put it in the social networking-sites-category (ibid).

Content Sharing: The most general type of content communities is YouTube for videos and Flicker for photos. The main function of content communities is sharing media content e.g. videos, pictures, audio clips between users. Internet users can create an account for each of the content communities; upload media content to the sites and share the media (Balakrishnan & Griffiths, 2017)

Social Networking Sites: Social Networking sites like Facebook is present everywhere in modern culture. A major differentiating feature for other mass media is it enables users to connect with their friends, families, and other ties (Harvey, 2014). Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, and MySpace are considered the most common social networking sites. They are called Social Networking Sites because they are sites for social interaction. These sites allow people to create personal profiles, invite others to join, access the profiles of other users, share information and contents in text, pictures, videos, and send instant messages to each other (Dao, 2015).

Popular Mass media: Facebook is the most popular Social network worldwide based on its number of users followed by YouTube, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Instagram, and TikTok (Climent, 2020). With affordable and easy internet access; people are buying smartphones and the new age of digital media has gained momentum (Prasain, 2018). Nearly 63 percent of Nigeria‟s population is connected to the internet (ibid). Stat Counter, a worldwide web traffic analysis website ranks Facebook (97.14% users) as the most popular websites in Nigeria as of August 2020 followed by Youtube (1.39%), Pinterest (0.58%), Twitter (0.57%), LinkedIn (0.14%) and Instagram (0.12%) (www.gsstatCounter.com,2020).


A pandemic is an epidemic disease which affects a larger population over a wide geographical area (Neumann, 2020). According to Youngrman (2008), an infectious disease is any illness caused by foreign pathogens like viruses, bacteria, parasites, and others that enter (infect) the body. These organisms are, nearly all invisible to the naked eye because they are microscopically tiny. An infectious disease is considered endemic to a particular place if it infects a more or less steady number of people at any one time. An epidemic is a sudden outbreak of a disease that is new to a region or an unusual growth in the number of afflicted persons of previously endemic disease. The difference between epidemic and pandemic is a matter of degree. When an epidemic quickly, rapidly spreads around the world, or over a large part of the world, and afflicts a huge part of the population, it is called a pandemic.

2.2 Corona Virus Infectious Disease-2019(COVID-19)

WHO (2020) defines, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a novel Coronavirus, a cluster of pneumonia. It is a mild to moderate respiratory illness that can be recovered without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness (WHO, 2020). Still, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. Some countries, universities, and research centers invented COVID-19 vaccines; however, all of them are in the different phases of their trials. The virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. So, WHO recommends maintaining physical distancing among people for preventive measures.

The very first case of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China on 31 December 2019. As of 3rd January 2020, a total of 44 patients of COVID-19 cases reported 11were severely ill in Wuhan City and spread all over the world (WHO, 2020). WHO declared COVID-19 as Public health emergency of international concern(PHEIC) on 30th Jan of 2020 and it declared COVID-19 Global Pandemic on 11th March of 2020 (MOHP, 2020).

The first case of 2019-COVID-19 was confirmed in Nigeria on 23 January 2020 (MOHP, 2020). The second case was found after two months on March 22, 2020, in a student who was returned from France via Doha, Qatar (MOHP, 2020).

2.2 Theoretical Framework

Multimedia tool Theories

2.2.1 multimedia tool theories assume that there is a direct link between the materials that the teachers use, and the students’ learning outcomes. These outcomes include higher abilities to learn, quality strategies to learn and perform classroom activities and positive attitude towards learning. Further, these theories assume that mass media have the capacity to develop into students the highest order of intellectual skills as they illustrate clearly, step by step how to follow the rules/principles and elaborate on the concepts, all of which have positive impact on solving new problems by analyzing the situation and formulating a plan (Gagné et al. 2005). According to Gagne et al, multimedia tool can be used to develop higher learning abilities to the learners through self-teaching or guided learning. This implies that the mass media mainly comprise “eliciting performance” and “providing feedback on performance correctness,” in addition to “providing learning guidance” for guided discovery learning. Many of Gagné’s 9 ideas have broad implications for secondary teachers in Alaafin high school and Alaafin grammar school in Agunpopo, Atiba L.G.A. Many of these ideas have capacity building undertones with themes of students’ acquisition of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, the theory does not relate to whether or not students can think critically in what aspects or how they can solve a particular problem by themselves. However, I have the opinion that the purpose of mass media or technology in education is to stretch students’ imagination and to encourage them to solve problems in their lives.


Similar ideas are held by Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist who held a view that tools and signs, which are in a form of mass media, have the capacity to develop in students higher level of thinking, which is important in problem-solving activities. However, since they are considered to be domain-specific, the ways mass media can start cognitive development is yet to be studied with respect to classroom teaching. Thus, this study stretches these views.


Sociocultural Theory of Teaching, Learning, and Development Sociocultural theory of teaching, learning and development is the second theory that framed this study. Largely inspired by the seminal works of Lev Vygotsky, this theory assumes that human minds do not develop by virtue of some predetermined cognitive structures that unfold as one matures. Rather, this theory posits that human’s minds develop as a result of constant interactions with the social material world.


According to Vygotsky, human mind develop through interaction with materials in the learning process where people learn from each other and use their experiences to successfully make sense of the materials they interact with. These experiences are crystallized in ‘cultural tools’, and the learners have to master such tools in order to develop specific knowledge and skills in solving specific problems and, in the process, become competent in specific profession. In the classroom, these tools can be a picture, a model, or pattern of solving a problem. Most often however, such tools are combinations of elements of different orders, and human language is the multi-level tool par excellence, combining culturally evolved arrangements of meanings, sounds, melody, rules of communication, and so forth.


Learning by using such tools is not something that simply helps the mind to develop. Rather, this kind of learning leads to new, more elaborated forms of mental functioning. For example, when children master such a complex cultural tool as human language, this results not only in their ability to talk but leads to completely new levels of thinking, self-regulation and mentality in general. It is the specific organization of this tool (e.g., the semantic, pragmatic and syntactic structures of language) that calls into being and in effect shapes and forms new facets of the child’s mind. Importantly, cultural tools are not merely static ‘things’ but embodiments of certain ways of acting in human communities. In other words, they represent the functions and meanings of things, as discovered in cultural practices:

they are “objects-that-can-be used- for-certain-purposes” in human societies. As such, they can be appropriated by a child only through acting upon and with them, that is, only in the course of actively reconstructing their meaning and function. And such reconstruction of cultural tools is initially possible only in the process of cooperating and interacting with other people who already possess the knowledge (i.e. the meaning) of a given cultural tool.


This short account is presented here to illustrate the fact that the sociocultural approach, unlike that of mass media by Gagne discussed above, not only allows for a synthesis of teaching, learning, and cognitive development; it actively calls for it. This theory implies that mass media lead to cognitive development because they mediate learners’ thinking through the tools, and such mediation constitutes the very cornerstone of mental development.

2.3 Empirical Review

In this section, I have reviewed the related literature about the roles and implications of mass media during other pandemics in general while the major focus of the review is on the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.

Mass media Pandemic/Epidemic

Misconception spread through Mass media has fuelled the on-going Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa (Adebimpe, 2015). Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, Mass media has been used in other pandemics before like the Zika virus epidemic, Ebola, and Swine flu epidemic. Lwin et.al (2020) conducted a study on Singapore during the Zika virus pandemic in 2016 that showed that besides factual information about Zika, people talked about elements of care, disease symptoms on vulnerable groups of people. People often good wish patients and victims like ‘Get well soon’ ‘Take care’ in Facebook posts and comments and users reply to them. This shows that mass media conversations can be used and analyzed for the understanding of public sentiment, emotions, and their state of mind.

Mass media in COVID-19

The role of mass media during the COVID-19 pandemic concludes that mass media have always been the key platforms for spreading misinformation (Sahni & Sharma, 2020). The major issue and topics of misinformation are disease statistics, medications, and methods of prevention, guidelines about food, and methods of transmitting the virus. The major proportion of this false rumor is disseminated in the web-2 era through mass media. In the first few months of 2020, information and news reports about the COVID-19 were rapidly published and shared on mass media and social networking sites. COVID-19 pandemic has been referred to as the first mass media INFODEMIC (Ahmad & Murad, 2020).


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