Purpose: COVID-19 had been the most talked-about issue since the outbreak of the pandemic. There is abundant information available on the internet and all the other media about the virus and related risks and challenges. If we go out and observe people on the streets as well as in public places, we will encounter people with different kinds of mindsets and with varying degrees of precautions against the virus. It is believed that the varied perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours of people towards the virus are majorly shaped by the kind and level of information that they receive and consume from different media channels.
The current study aimed to assess the level of knowledge people have towards COVID-19 and determine where they sourced their information from and to also understand how effective the media has
been in disseminating the information. The purpose of this study is also to assess people’s perception regarding State’s/Government role in containing the spread of the virus.
Design: Keeping the objectives of the current study in mind, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 606 university-going students using a google form, and at the same time mail interviews were conducted with 20 respondents. The survey was structured to assess their knowledge about viral sources, transmission, symptoms, and complications, sources of information about COVID-19 as well as the role and effectiveness of the Government in managing the cases of COVID-19 and in containing and retarding the spread of the virus.
Findings: It was found that the majority of the students relied on the Internet and social media for the consumption of their information on COVID 19. The newspaper is the most credible source of information and most of the students believed in the effectiveness of Government initiatives to control the virus. Deployment of forces for containing the virus was criticized and the credibility of the Government data was questioned.
Research limitations: The researchers could not cover geographical locations other than Uttar Pradesh (North India) and Karnataka (South India). Non-probability sampling technique was used for the selection of the two best private universities from both the states as it was not possible to reach out to the students at other colleges and universities due to the pandemic and lockdown. The above-mentioned universities were purposely selected as almost a hundred percent of students at these universities had access to the internet and social media, owing to their demographic profile. The findings of the study could not be generalized to the entire population.
Social implications: This paper offers a foundation for future research with a broader geographical area, covering all parts of the country and people of all demography’s to understand how people perceived the pandemic and what are the major and most reliable sources of information for them in times of crisis.
Originality/value: This paper highlights the new and problematic reality for Indian young people and can help for a better understanding of the issues they may face in the future.
Keywords: COVID-19, Information Source, Government Initiative, University Students, Media Vehicle