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Addicted To News? You're More Likely To Suffer From Stress, Anxiety, Poor Health

News addiction can have serious impacts on mental and physical wellbeing. Learn to develop a healthier relationship with the news.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : August 25, 2022 12:48 PM IST

It is a good habit to read/listen/watch the news daily as it helps you stay informed and updated about what's happening around the world. But too much news or news addiction can take a toll on your mental and physical health. A new study has revealed that people who are addicted to news are at higher risk of suffering from stress, anxiety, and poor physical health.

It's normal to feel temporarily distressed or helpless after reading or watching bad news such as mass shootings, COVID deaths, Russia-Ukraine war, etc. But in some people, continues exposure to the news feeds of such worrying global events can have serious impacts on their mental and physical wellbeing.

The study, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Health Communication, found high levels of news addiction associated with greater physical ill-health.

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Constantly checking for the news updates will not help alleviate your emotional distress, but your obsession over the news will start interfering with other aspects of your life, said Bryan McLaughlin, associate professor of advertising at the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University.

It can even make the world seem like a dark and dangerous place, he added.

News addiction and its health effects

Your addiction to news can cause more harm than you can imagine.

McLaughlin and his team at the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University surveyed more than 1000 US adults to understand the health effects of news addiction.

Over 16 per cent of the adults surveyed showed signs of 'severely problematic' news consumption. Not only the new stories dominated their waking thoughts, but excessive news consumption disrupted their time with family and friends, caused difficulty focusing on school or work, and led restlessness and sleep problems.

The higher problematic news consumption, the greater the risk of experiencing mental and physical ill-being, the researchers said.

How to beat your news addiction

McLaughlin opined that focused media literacy campaigns could help people develop a healthier relationship with the news.

Previous research has shown that if people become aware of the adverse effects of news addiction on their mental health, they may decide to stop or reduce their news consumption dramatically.

But when people do so, they are more likely to miss important information related to their health and safety.

" it also undermines the existence of an informed citizenry, which has implications for maintaining a healthy democracy. This is why a healthy relationship with news consumption is an ideal situation," said McLaughlin, as quoted by Science Daily.

The researchers also highlighted the commercial pressures that news media face, which is forcing journalists to select "newsworthy" stories that will grab readers' attention.

But McLaughlin said that the conflict and drama that characterize newsworthy stories "are not just harmful to the goal of maintaining a healthy democracy, they also may be harmful to individuals' health."

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