Obsessively checking social media during a crisis might harm your mental health


Survivors of three recent disasters – the northern California fires, the Las Vegas mass shooting, and Hurricane Maria – used social media and texting as lifelines to connect with loved ones, seek aid, and search for the latest developments.

A new study, however, suggests that people who get updates during a major crisis from unofficial channels like random social media accounts are most exposed to conflicting information and experience the most psychological distress.

The study, published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 3,890 students whose campus was locked down after a shooter fired on people. Since it’s difficult, if not impossible, to begin a scientific study during a life-threatening disaster or crisis, the researchers asked students about their experience a week after the incident and analyzed five hours of Twitter data about the shooting. (Details about what happened were anonymized at the university’s request.) Read more…

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