In recent years, a phenomenon called “doomscrolling” — where people seek out and binge negative news in order to find answers during uncertain times — has been a mark of social media.
The phrase was coined in 2018, but it caught traction in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A study recently published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior found that doomscrolling was strongly associated with anxiety, poor self-control and the fear of missing out — called FOMO. Additionally, the study found that males and younger generations were more likely to doomscroll than women and older people.
Especially for those who are affected by depression and anxiety, doomscrolling can become an echo chamber of negative news. According to a 2020 study, excessive media consumption increases these feelings. Yet a 2021 study found people feel compelled to stay informed in order to regain some sense of control over the situation and appease anxieties.
Additionally, spending increased amounts of time on your phone can increase feelings of depression, isolation and anxiety.
If you find yourself in the traps of doomscrolling, there are several you can do.
Most smartphones allow you to set timers that limit your screen time and can give you a reminder to stop scrolling. Having vigilance and controlling your social media intake is better for your mental health.
Instead of looking at negative news, helpguide.org recommneds you intentionally seek out positive or hopeful stories, and spend time cultivating your happiness by searching for topics and stories that make you feel positive. Finally, it wrote, consider unfollowing certain social media accounts that do not contribute to your mental well-being.
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