Home Mental Health & Well-Being How Negative News Robbs Us of Time – And What to Do About It

How Negative News Robbs Us of Time – And What to Do About It

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Have you ever been captivated by a horror film? Despite the fear and anxiety it evokes, there’s a pull that keeps you watching. 

The phenomenon of doomscrolling isn’t much different.

According to a study conducted by Passport Photo Online, there’s more to understand about this compulsive behavior, its triggers, its impacts, and, most crucially, how to address it. Dive in if you want to learn how to save your time and mood.

What is doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling, occasionally referred to as doomsurfing, is the compulsive consumption of negative news online. This doesn’t simply mean checking for negative news but rather obsessively doing so, leading to a loss of control over one’s mood and actions.

The doomscrolling phenomenon became a popular topic during the pandemic. People were incessantly checking Covid updates, trying to cope with the prevailing uncertainty. This constant exposure to negative news, however, often led them to become fixated on distressing topics.

Key triggers

The onset of the pandemic brought the phenomenon of doomscrolling to the forefront. Yet, it’s not just health concerns that prompt this compulsive consumption of negative news.

So, which subjects most frequently instigate doomscrolling?

  • Social issues. Topics encompassing racial justice and gender equality top the list, accounting for 17% of responses.
  • Health concerns. Health-related topics, including those related to the pandemic, come in closely at 16%.
  • Economic insights. News about the economy and financial matters are significant triggers, with 14% indicating as such.
  • Environmental matters. Climate change and environmental challenges account for 11% of triggers.

These subjects seemingly amplify our anxieties, initiating a cycle of concern and leading us to seek out more information, often of a negative nature.

Doomscrolling habits 

The truth is that doomscrolling robs us of time.

The study reveals that:

  • 25% of respondents doomscroll a few times a week.
  • 22% do so multiple times a day.
  • 21% engage once daily.

Each session is lengthy. The most common duration is up to 1 hour. Alarmingly, 22% of individuals spend 1–2 hours on this activity.

Interestingly, only 4% claim they never engage in doomscrolling.

time doomscrolling

When do most people doomscroll?

  • Around 30% during working hours (8am–3pm).
  • Many in the evening between 6pm–9pm, potentially cutting into relaxation time.
  • Early morning, specifically 5am–8pm, is the second most popular period. Consuming negative news at this time can set a negative tone for the day.

Regrettably, many of us immerse ourselves in negative news at two critical times: right before work and immediately afterward. Moreover, this behavior is prevalent during work hours, affecting work performance.

Doomscrolling’s effect on work performance

Doomscrolling appears to compete with professional motivation. 

When participants were asked about its influence on their work focus:

  • Roughly 46% said it had a significant negative impact.
  • Over 70% believe they’ve missed deadlines or underperformed because of doomscrolling during work hours.

Such findings highlight the considerable disruption that doomscrolling can bring to our professional lives. So, how do we counteract this?

reducing doomscrolling

How to beat doomscrolling

Given its negative impact on well-being, it’s no surprise that many seek ways to mitigate doomscrolling. Based on participant feedback, the most effective strategies are:

  • Selective consumption. Limit the number of news sources. This strategy was found helpful by 14.7% of respondents.
  • Tech intervention. Use apps or tools to manage screen time – supported by 13.9%.
  • Mindfulness practices. Engage in mindfulness or meditation – preferred by 12.6%.
  • Offline activities. Engage in non-digital, real-life activities – supported by 12.4%.
  • Notification management. Adjust news and social media app notifications to reduce exposure. This strategy was also favoured by 12.4%.

Of these, being selective with news sources appears most successful, preventing a deeper dive into distressing topics.

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