During this unprecedented time in our country, new research shows our social media habits are changing.
The pandemic, politics, and race relations have increased tensions around the country. A new survey from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds more than half of Americans (56%) have changed their social media habits because of tensions surrounding current events.
“There's another shift of people doing what we call “doom scrolling,” like looking for the worst stories out there and binging on doom stories. It is the current social equivalent to watching a train wreck,” says Dr. Kenneth Yeager, the director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
About 20% of people surveyed said they have taken social media breaks. Dr. Yeager says while you cannot control what is online, you can limit your exposure. “If you're feeling agitated, frustrated, stop, step away from social media, engage in activities outside, maybe with your children or family, maybe helping others in the community,” Dr. Yeager says.
Andrea Koder spends a few hours on social media every day, but recently she's noticed a change in what she's seeing. “A lot of fear and worry and skepticism and pessimism and that kind of thing. Not a whole lot of hope and, you know, good stuff, so I think there's just been a lot of animosity,” she says.
Koder says taking some time off from the screen has been good for her, “to get myself into a better headspace and focus on things that are more reality-based, like spending time in my yard, or hanging out with my pets or people in my life,” she says.
When a person feels ready to go back, it's best to set time limits so you don't spend too much time on social media.
Experts say if you are having trouble controlling your mood, feeling regular panic, or connecting with others, you should reach out to a mental health professional for help.