A study from the University of Essex in the UK found that just two minutes of ‘doomscrolling’ on social media can cause people to lower their mood.
Doomscrolling is the practice of reading negative news for a long time, something that may be common in current times due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In other words, watching videos on YouTube about the global health crisis or looking up infection statistics on Twitter can cause users to go from a positive mood to feeling sad.
The research of the Essex psychologists coincides with several scientific studies carried out during the pandemic, which determined that the levels of anxiety and depression increased during confinement, mainly due to the repetitive information about the coronavirus and its variants, explains in its report the Daily Mail.
The university team of researchers set out to find out how quickly the negative impact was felt after exposure to news content about the pandemic, determining that it only takes two minutes of ‘doomscrolling’ for tempers to collapse.
How did you measure the speed of the ‘doomscrolling’ effect?
In two different studies, psychologists randomly assigned people to spend a few minutes consuming information related to COVID-19, whether it was reading a Twitter feed in real time or watching a YouTube video of someone commenting on bad news about it. deadly virus.
In both studies, participants reported lower well-being compared to a control group, which had not been exposed to any news about the pandemic, and confirmed that just two minutes of bad news about the pandemic was enough to have a powerful effect. in people’s emotions.
In contrast, positive stories about random acts of kindness regarding COVID-19, people recovering from the disease, among other issues, did not have the same negative effect, suggesting that it is not simply the time spent in social networks which is problematic, but the consumption of bad news is what generates concern.
Dr. Kathryn Buchanan, lead author of the study and who led the team of specialists, spoke about the research, which aimed to test how quickly the negative impact of the news was felt on users of social networks.
“If just a few minutes of exposure to bad news related to COVID-19 can result in immediate reductions in well-being, then prolonged and repeated exposure can add significant mental health consequences over time.”, Explains the doctor.
Buchanan added: “Our findings suggest the importance of being aware of your own news consumption, especially on social media. In some countries, the consumption of news through networks is increasing, although people recognize that the news on these platforms has lower quality, precision, reliability and impartiality”.
“People search for social media for many reasons besides news consumption, and they may not realize that minimal exposure to bad news on these platforms can have such negative consequences. One strategy people could employ would be to try to undo the negative by balancing it with positive information.”Concluded the author.