Just two minutes of “doom-scrolling” can worsen your mood
Just two minutes of exposure to COVID-19 content can leave you feeling less optimistic and feeling worse, according to new research.
A team of scientists from the UK and Canada exposed 1000 participants to COVID news, COVID-related acts of kindness, or nothing at all, to determine whether negative news or kind acts would affect mood.
When compared to the group exposed to nothing at all, those who were exposed to COVID-related news experienced an “immediate and significant” reduction in happiness.
The team found that this drop in mood could occur after just two to four minutes.
As for those who consumed content about COVID-related acts of kindness, the study found they didn’t experience the negative consequences.
The researchers, led by psychologist Dr Kathryn Buchanan, claim that exposure to negative content can be particularly problematic on social media as they make “passive consumption of news almost unavoidable”.
“Even a few minutes of exposure to COVID-related news on social media can ruin a person’s mood,” the team wrote.
“Given that many people spend five to 10 times the amount of time interacting with COVID-related news each day, this likely offers a conservative estimate of the emotional toll.”
They also argued that additional work would be needed to confirm that the effect would be felt after exposure to content about other large-scale threats, such as climate change.
The study, published in PLOS One, also had some advice for those looking to avoid these negative effects.
The team offered several solutions: the increase in positive stories produced by media outlets, seeking out positive content, or engaging in other activities that can bolster happiness.
They concluded: “We would all do well to be mindful of these effects and consider balancing our doom-scrolling with some kindness-scrolling.”
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