News consumption harms our mental health

1. Recurring Trauma – Studies find that many people who view catastrophic events (terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters) repeated over and over again on television can develop PTSD-like symptoms, even though they had no direct experience of the catastrophe.

2 Agenda Setting – When the news media becomes obsessed with a topic and shows it repeatedly, people begin to believe that topic is important, whether it actually is or not (hello, Monica Lewinsky). Similarly, negative news coverage causes people to overestimate problems, believing they’re far more widespread than they actually are. What’s worse, this seems to only be true for negative news. Positive news does not cause the same biases in our thinking.

3. Cultivation Theory – Studies report that people who watch more news tend to overestimate the amount of crime and violence that happens in the real world. They also generally distrust their fellow citizens more often, becoming paranoid that everyone is out to get them.

4. Misinformation and Propaganda – People who watch partisan cable news (e.g., Fox News and MSNBC in the United States) are actually worse-informed than someone who watches no news. Large swaths of the news industry are actively misinforming people.

5. Stress and Anxiety – News consumption harms our mental health. Consuming news generates a greater sense of pessimism about not just the world, but your own life. It also increases stress and symptoms of generalized anxiety.

Why You Should Quit the News

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