Sink or Swim: Virtual Life Challenges among African American Families during COVID-19 Lockdown
2.1. Setting and Participant Selection
2.2. Data Collection
2.3. Data Analysis
3.1. Emerging Themes
3.2. Sudden and Drastic Changes—Sink or Swim
Well, social media is a blessing and a curse. We understand that we can have grocery stores and we can have restaurants, we can have all this but guess what, we don’t have to leave our house if we don’t want to, for nothing. It can all be delivered and we can still be connected socially, virtually and so before this we was kind of tiptoeing into it. Now we’re going virtual…. now everybody’s been dumped into it and say, sink or swim. (038)
I fully supported the decision to cease that (excessive use of devices) …so where we used to have like screen time and turn the TV up and don’t look at your electronic all the time. But I started to be relaxed in all that moreso than ever because, goodness, they don’t have anything else, no other way to connect with their friends. (037)
3.3. Familial Engagement Challenges
3.3.1. Fighting over Resources
My children are fighting more, not like they physically fight… “Well, I’m watching this” (on the tablet). That’s a fight every day. Like, I have to minimize the times that the kids use it. Then you don’t want them to be on devices too long so I’m up to the point where taking them and hiding them up under my mattress. You got an 8-year old and you got a 10-year old and you have to work with them and then they fight amongst each other, then they fight with the 16-year old. They drive me insane. (032)
It happens a lot when I’m doing something like cooking or cleaning or something my daughter will just randomly start picking with my son for whatever reason, like “Give me the phone” or “Let me watch YouTube” or something like that and then my son gets easily annoyed, then he be like “You’re so annoying. Stop,” or something like that, and then that’s when it’s time to be like “Okay, guys, stop, separate yourselves.” (031)
3.3.2. Lack of Access to Wi-Fi
I think that (internet) should be a given during the school year, period, regardless of what’s going on because we send these kids home with tablets or whatever, laptops, but if they can’t get on the internet to access the things what good is having the tablet at home? (039)
3.4. Technology for Learning and Leisure Engagement
When school was still in session (from home due to COVID-19) he had one to three sessions four days a week. He was constantly pretty much on Zoom most of the day… If he had needed help outside of his Zoom sessions then, I would help him with that but thankfully they pretty much worked through whatever the assignments were during their sessions so there wasn’t a lot of “teaching” that I needed to do outside of those sessions. (039)
But the kids, they’ve been playing Roblox. That’s the number one app they’ve been playing. Most of the kids have also been watching YouTube videos. Cocomelon YouTube Video did a billion streams in one week last week. (038)
I feel like we did good for what we had, like having the kids be a part of the planning process of what our days would look like, keeping them involved, like having our little family meetings, so keeping them involved, the best way we could without scaring or overwhelming them. (037)
My granddaughter will get on the internet one to three days out of a week. She did it with her school and with Grade A Plus. They both got on the internet and the teacher would do activities on the internet on Zoom. (036)
5. Conclusions and Possible Future Research Directions
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Median age, years||43.5|
|Educational status (25+) a|
|High School||2 (16.7)|
|Some college||7 (58.3)|
|College or more||3 (25.0)|
|Not married||1 (9.1)|
|Never married||5 (45.4)|
|Change in income|
|Stayed the same||5 (45.4)|
|Number of children 5 to 17 years old|
|None b||1 (9.1)|
|Age of parent (categories)|
|25 to 35 years||2 (18.2)|
|36 to 45 years||2 (18.2)|
|46 years or more||7 (63.6)|
|Age of children|
median (interquartile range)
|11 (9.0, 16.0)|
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Anakwe, A.; Majee, W.; Noel-London, K.; Zachary, I.; BeLue, R. Sink or Swim: Virtual Life Challenges among African American Families during COVID-19 Lockdown. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 4290. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084290
Anakwe A, Majee W, Noel-London K, Zachary I, BeLue R. Sink or Swim: Virtual Life Challenges among African American Families during COVID-19 Lockdown. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(8):4290. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084290Chicago/Turabian Style
Anakwe, Adaobi, Wilson Majee, Kemba Noel-London, Iris Zachary, and Rhonda BeLue. 2021. "Sink or Swim: Virtual Life Challenges among African American Families during COVID-19 Lockdown" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 8: 4290. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084290