Dougherty High students discuss impact of COVID, social media during program

Feb. 21—ALBANY — For Dougherty High School students, the past three years have been turbulent, as was the case for everyone during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, students discussed some of their experiences and heard a speaker talk about how to better find reliable sources when scrolling through social media. Another topic of the program titled "What's Good for the Gab? Social Media Influence Post-COVID" was how to identify reputable news sources to make decisions on things like whether or not to take the COVID vaccine.

During the pandemic, a lot of misinformation was produced, said Anquarius Brown, a 2018 Dougherty alumnus who graduated from Albany State University in 2022 with a degree in mass communication.

"A lot of politicians were telling people to take bleach," he gave as an example.

Brown, who said he splits time between Albany and Atlanta and works as a life coach and journalist, listed some of the more recognized news sources, including networks like ABC, FOX News and CNN.

Other rumors that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic is that the the virus was created by a government,

"We heard things," he said. "How many of y'all heard people saying 'I ain't going to get the vaccine? The government is trying to kill me.'

"Why would the government want to kill people?"

There are also sources students run across while surfing the internet that are not reliable, the speaker said, as well as a bottom tier of sites that are pretty much gossip.

That doesn't mean the students can't visit their favorite social media sites, he added.

"I love TikTok," he said. "There's a lot of news stories that are on TikTok. I have to, (but) you just have to be skeptical of news sources."

And when they have doubt, Brown said, the students should check other sources online.

A panel of five students also gave their thoughts on the pandemic and social media. Some were elated when they initially did not have to attend classes in person, but then realized the gravity of the situation.

Several lost loved ones, as was the case for school graduate counselor and program organizer Brenda Blackshear-Amankwa, who recounted the loss of four family members.

"My auntie died, my uncle died," senior Clarice Henry said. "COVID has impacted me a lot. I got COVID, and it affected me a lot. Social media really helped me keep going."