One study suggested that consuming too much bad news, or doomscrolling, can worsen mental and physical health.
Analyzing 1,100 US adults, the study suggested that 16.5% had “severely problematic” news consumption.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the practice of doomscrolling took off and became a popular term.
Eliminating bad news isn’t always easy when it seems to be everywhere, but a new study has suggested that consuming too much can worsen mental and physical health.
The study of 1,100 US adults said 16.5 percent of respondents had a “seriously problematic” habit of consuming bad news. The findings, published in Health Communication magazine in August, further suggested that people who consumed more bad news had “more mental and physical discomfort” than people who didn’t consume that much bad news. Examples of “malaise” in the study are anxiety, stress, and depression, all of which were self-reported in the survey.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began, it became more common to scroll through the bad news endlessly. The practice eventually became known as “doomscrolling” or “doomsurfing”, due to the flood of negative and distressing news.
“We argue that for some Americans, seeing these events unfold in the news could lead to a constant state of alert, pushing their surveillance motives to excess as the world becomes a dark and dangerous place,” the authors said. study. The survey, conducted in August 2021, was led by Bryan McLaughlin, Melissa Gotlieb and Devin Mills of Texas Tech University.
Additionally, for some people, “a vicious cycle can develop in which, instead of becoming estranged, they are lured further, obsessed with the news, and checking for updates around the clock to ease their emotional distress,” the authors said.
Higher percentages of people surveyed did not have “severely problematic” news consumption, with 27.3% “moderately problematic”, 27.5% “minimally problematic” and 28.7% “unproblematic”.
The study did not specify how much time spent reading or watching the news defined how “problematic” a participant’s behavior is, but the measures by which people interviewed were rated were: being absorbed by the news, thinking frequently to the news, reading and watching the news reduce anxiety, the difficulty of not reading or watching the news, and not being able to focus on school or work due to focusing on the news.
For people with “moderately problematic news consumption,” the study suggested they have “greater mental illness than those with minimal or unproblematic news consumption and more physical discomfort than those with minimally problematic news consumption. “.
Among people who have “minimally problematic” and “unproblematic” news consumption habits, the study suggested that there was no significant difference between mental and physical distress.
“This suggests that being somehow absorbed into a dangerous world is not problematic for mental and physical health unless it is also accompanied by being trapped in that dead-end world,” the study authors said.
The study authors said the study results show “important implications” for the well-being of people, society and democracy.
“These findings point to the need for media literacy campaigns focused on raising awareness of the potential for news consumption to turn into problematic behavior, as well as the need to develop intervention strategies,” said the authors.
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