COVID-19, Digital Media, and Health| COVID-19, Digital Media, and Health: Lessons Learned and the Way Ahead for the Study of Human Communication—Introduction
During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital media played a pivotal role as a source of information, a tool for emotional expression, and, consequently, a determinant of psychological and social well-being. This article introduces a Special Section on COVID-19, digital media, and health. Based on the selected papers, we argue that the pandemic can serve as a magnifying glass to detect several critical reflection points for studying human communication. In particular, we conclude that the pandemic has aggravated existing differences in the effects of digital media, both in the positive (i.e., beneficial effects) and the negative (i.e., harmful effects) directions. We call on the field for a renewed focus on theory building, not just treating the pandemic as a special case but rather as a starting point for long-term, field-wide theory development. We also call for longitudinal, multidata, multiplatform, and multimethod designs.