Experts Issue Doomscrolling Warning With Increasing Concerns For Mental Health
Being aware of our online activities and how they impact important wellbeing routines such as eating healthily, regular exercise and quality sleep is something that we should all be mindful of. One concern is that doomscrolling can add the extra element of stress or concern, which some experts believe increases the risk of neglecting offline wellbeing routines. If you are affected by anything touched on within this article, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.
Experts around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about the widespread growth of ‘doomscrolling’ and the effect that it can have on people’s mental health.
Doomscrolling or doomsurfing describe the act of continually, or in some cases obsessively, scrolling through news or content online even though it is saddening, upsetting, disheartening or depressing. If you have found yourself spending hours scrolling through negative news stories or alarming content online, then according to experts, you could be doomscrolling without even being aware of it.
It is easy to argue that 2020 has not been in short supply of worrying news stories about extremely serious global issues. According to experts, for some internet users there is a risk that too much time spent focusing on these weighty problems, especially before sleeping, can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
Research scientist Mesfin Bekalu from Harvard’s School of Public Health, explained how people naturally tend to pay more attention to bad news as a way of assessing threats, risks and danger. He went on to explain that in addition to this, algorithms that target users with topical content make doomscrolling and its impact almost inevitable.
“Since the 1970s, we know of the ‘Mean World Syndrome’ – the belief that the world is a more dangerous place to live in than it actually is, as a result of long-term exposure to violence-related content on mass media. Doomscrolling can lead to the same long-term effects on mental health unless we mount interventions that address users behaviors and guide the design of social media platforms in ways that improve mental health and wellbeing.”
Mesfin Bekula, Harvard School of Public Health
Being aware of our online activities and how they could impact important wellbeing routines such as eating healthily, regular exercise and quality sleep is something that all internet users should be mindful of. Doomscrolling can add the extra element of stress or concern, which some experts believe increases the risk of neglecting offline wellbeing routines – especially if you are scrolling late into the night.
California based Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, Dr. Judy Ho, commented on the ‘fight or flight’ response to doomscrolling that occurs when the brain’s cortisol levels increase, commenting that “Elevated cortisol caused by stress or a ‘fight or flight’ response isn’t something that just lasts over a few minutes; when someone’s cortisol peaks, it’s a phenomenon that goes on for the entire day where they feel unhappy or tired.”
Dr Ho, also recommended that people try to manage their doomscrolling habits by setting time limits and allocating time slots – suggesting that 25 minutes before starting work or before an important planned activity would help to minimize the time spent focused on potentially stressful or worrying content and also serve as a far healthier option than consuming endless amounts of negative news before trying to sleep.
If you are affected by anything touched on within this article, we can help you. Visit our Help Center or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to open Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant. To learn more about Cybersmile and our work, please explore the following recommendations:
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