Just two MINUTES of 'doomscrolling' through social media can bring your mood down, study warns


Step away from the smartphone: Just two MINUTES of ‘doomscrolling’ through social media can bring your mood down, study warns

  • Participants read a Twitter feed or watched a YouTube video on bad Covid news
  • Just two minutes of this was found to drag participants’ mood down 
  • Positive stories about coronavirus did not have the same negative effect


Just two minutes of ‘doomscrolling’ on social media can drag people’s mood down, a study has found.

Scrolling through stories about coronavirus on Twitter or viewing them on YouTube is enough to cause people’s positive mood to plummet.

Several scientific studies have found that levels of anxiety and depression have increased over the pandemic – particularly when reading covid-related news every day.

Psychologists from the University of Essex set out to discover how quickly the negative impact was felt after exposure to covid content.

Just two minutes of doom and gloom on social media can drag people's mood down, a study has found (stock image)

Just two minutes of doom and gloom on social media can drag people’s mood down, a study has found (stock image) 

What is technology addiction? 

Technology addiction is a type of behavioural addiction, characterised by an over-reliance on or excessive use of technological devices.

Unhealthy relationships with technology such as mobile phones, computers, games and social media can have destructive consequences; physically and psychologically. 

Lives can be impaired by the extensive and unregulated time ‘online’.

Source: Nightingale Hospital London 

In two studies, people were randomly assigned to spend a few minutes consuming covid-related information, either by reading a real-time Twitter feed or watching a You Tube video of someone commenting on bad covid news.

In both studies participants reported lower well-being compared to a control group, who had not been exposed to any covid news.

They found as little as two minutes of bad news about the pandemic was enough to have a powerful effect on people’s emotions.

Positive covid stories about random acts of kindness did not have the same negative effect, suggesting that it is not simply time spent on social media that is problematic, but rather that consumption of bad news is the concern.

Dr Kathryn Buchanan, who led the study, said: ‘We wanted to test how quickly the negative impact was felt.

‘If even a mere few minutes of exposure to bad COVID-related news can result in immediate reductions to well-being, then extended and repeated exposure may over time add up to significant mental health consequences.

‘Our findings suggest the importance of being mindful of one’s own news consumption, especially on social media.

‘In some countries, news consumption via social media is on the rise, even though people acknowledge that news on these platforms has lower quality, accuracy, trustworthiness and impartiality.’

Scrolling through stories about coronavirus on Twitter or viewing them on YouTube is enough to cause people's positive mood to plummet (stock image)

Scrolling through stories about coronavirus on Twitter or viewing them on YouTube is enough to cause people’s positive mood to plummet (stock image)

Half of adults in the UK now use social media to keep up with the news, including 16 per cent who use Twitter, and 35 per cent who use Facebook.

Dr Buchanan added: ‘People seek out social media for many reasons, other than news consumption, and may not realise that minimal exposure to bad news on these platforms can have such negative consequences.

‘One strategy that individuals could employ would be to attempt to undo the negative by balancing it out with positive information.’

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