Study links social media coronavirus coverage with worsening mental health

A large proportion of people say their mental health has worsened after consuming online news on the coronavirus.

The research, published by media firm Flixed, highlights the impact each online media service has on our health, ranked from least impactful to most impactful.

According to the study, YouTube has the least impact on mental wellbeing, with just three in 10 (32.2 per cent) people saying their mental health has worsened after consuming YouTube-based content. On the contrary, almost five in 10 (46.6 per cent) respondents say their mental health had improved after watching YouTube content.

Reddit, meanwhile, was voted the worst platform for mental health. The research suggests that almost six in 10 (57.8 per cent) people see their mental wellbeing decline after consuming Reddit news, compared to 22.6 per cent who say their wellbeing improved.

Twitter was ranked second to worst, with 43 per cent reporting poorer mental health, followed by Facebook (41.6 per cent).

Commenting on the impact of Reddit, the researchers suggest: “The platform has long been fertile ground for conspiracy theories, and its leadership has resisted the active moderation measures adopted by competitors.

“Across a diffuse array of subreddits, troubling and misleading posts continue to proliferate, despite the best efforts of some well-intentioned moderators.”

The study also reveals that we are now spending some 53 minutes per day on average consuming televised or online news coverage, up 22 minutes a day. But the researchers say there is a tangible link between the amount of time spent consuming news and negative mental health.

“Individuals reporting their mental health had declined since the start of 2020 watched an average of 73 minutes of news or online content each day,” they said.

“On the other hand, those who felt their mental health had improved since the start of 2020 watched only about an hour of news each day.”

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