This study explores the psychological and behavioural responses towards COVID-19 and attitudes towards government communication and media coverage on COVID-19, with an emphasis on young adults in the Japanese context. Taking into consideration concerns regarding pandemic fatigue, the study also addresses information seeking, overload and avoidance among the young generation in Japan. An online survey was conducted with 800 internet users aged between 20 and 29 residing in Kanto and Kansai, Japan’s two major regions, in early February 2021 under the second state of emergency amid the third wave of COVID-19 infections. The findings reveal that the perception of COVID-19 risk at the individual and societal levels and the risk of infecting other people were high among younger people, who turned to online-based media for COVID-19 information. The extent of self-restraint practices was quite high as well. Risk perception, rejection avoidance and health literacy on COVID-19 affected these practices. On the other hand, younger people felt themselves underrepresented and overly blamed in pandemic politics and media coverage. While the health literacy on COVID-19 among the young generation was not strong enough, they tended to feel overloaded with information and avoid information. Those who relied more on SNS, online news, family and friends and commercial broadcasting for COVID-19 were more likely to experience a COVID-19 information overload. Information overload was the main predictor of information avoidance and attitudes towards media coverage while reliability on the internet and social media for COVID-19 information were also related to information avoidance.
Keywords: self-restraint, risk perception, health literacy, information avoidance, information overload