Step away from the smartphone: Just two MINUTES of ‘doomscrolling’ through social media can bring your mood down, study warns

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  • Participants read a Twitter feed or watched a YouTube video on bad COVID news
  • Its mere two minutes were found to drag down the mood of the participants
  • Positive stories about coronavirus didn’t have as much negative impact

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Just two minutes of ‘doomscrolling’ on social media can spoil people’s mood, a study has found.

Scrolling through stories about coronavirus on Twitter or watching them on YouTube is enough to dampen people’s positive mood.


Several scientific studies have found that levels of anxiety and depression have increased during the pandemic – especially when reading news related to COVID every day.

Psychologists from the University of Essex set out to find out how quickly negative effects were felt after exposure to COVID material.

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Just two minutes of doom and gloom on social media can spoil people’s mood, finds a study (stock image)

What is technology addiction?

Technology addiction is a type of behavioral addiction characterized by excessive dependence or excessive use of technological devices.

Unhealthy relationships with technology such as mobile phones, computers, games and social media can have disastrous consequences; physically and psychologically.

Life can be affected by widespread and irregular time ‘online’.

Source: Nightingale Hospital London


In two studies, people were randomly assigned to spend a few minutes consuming COVID-related information, either by reading a real-time Twitter feed or watching someone’s YouTube video commenting on bad COVID news. Doing.

Participants in both studies reported less well-being than a control group who were not exposed to any COVID news.

They found that two minutes of bad news about the pandemic was enough to have a powerful effect on people’s emotions.

Positive Covid stories about random acts of kindness did not have the same negative effect, suggesting that it is not just time spent on social media that is problematic, but that consumption of bad news is a concern.

Dr Catherine Buchanan, who led the study, said: ‘We wanted to test how quickly the negative effect was felt.

‘If exposure to COVID-related bad news can cause an immediate decrease in well-being, even minutes after exposure, then extended and repeated exposure over time can add up to significant mental health consequences.

‘Our findings suggest the importance of being mindful of your own news consumption, particularly on social media.

‘In some countries, the consumption of news through social media is increasing, even though people acknowledge that the quality, accuracy, credibility and objectivity of news on these platforms is low.’

Scrolling through stories about coronavirus on Twitter or watching them on YouTube is enough to spoil people's positive mood (stock image)

Scrolling through stories about coronavirus on Twitter or watching them on YouTube is enough to spoil people’s positive mood (stock image)

Half of adults in the UK now use social media to keep up with the news, with 16 per cent using Twitter and 35 per cent using Facebook.

Dr Buchanan continued: ‘People seek out social media for many reasons other than news consumption, and they may not realize that even minimal exposure to bad news on these platforms can have such negative consequences.

‘One strategy that individuals can employ would be to try to undo the negative by balancing it with positive information.’


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