- For many people, reading bad news can trigger feelings of helplessness and temporary distress.
- “In the case of news addiction, patients may decide to stop or reduce their news consumption if they feel it is having a negative impact on their mental health,” the researchers said.
Constant news on TV, radio in the background, notification rain with short news… Some people have an obsessive need to constantly check the information. According to scientists from Texas Tech University (USA), this addiction is associated with poor mental and physical health. To reach this conclusion, the researchers performed papers published in the journal health communication.
For this study, the team analyzed data from an online survey of 1,100 American adults. In this survey, respondents were asked to what extent they could relate to statements such as “I am so engrossed in the news that I forget the world around me”, “My mind is often occupied with the news” or “I find it difficult to keep up with the stop reading or watching the news.” Respondents also answered questions about how often they feel stressed or anxious and experience physical ailments such as fatigue, pain, trouble concentrating and gastrointestinal problems.
Mental and physical discomfort
Accordingly, 16.5% of the participants showed signs of problematic information consumption. According to the authors, even after controlling for their demographic and personality characteristics, volunteers with news addiction were observed to have greater mental distress and poorer physical health than those without.
Specifically, 73.6% of news-addicted adults reported suffering from mental disorders. Another observation: 61% of the information-addicted participants reported experiencing “mild” or “very strong” physical discomfort.
“A vicious circle”
“Witnessing certain events (pandemic, invasion of Ukraine, shootings, fires, etc.) on TV news can put some people in a permanent state of alert, encouraging them to watch the news more often and make the world seem a dangerous place” , stated Bryan McLaughlin, author of the work, in a press release.
“For these people, a vicious cycle can develop where, rather than disconnecting, they become even more involved, obsess over information, and seek 24/7 updates to ease their emotional distress. The more they review the information, the more more they start interfering with other aspects of their lives.”he continued.
According to the authors, the findings demonstrate the need for media literacy campaigns to help citizens develop healthier relationships with the news.
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