COVID-19: Keep calm and switch off the news

COVID-19: Keep calm and switch off the news

The COVID-19 pandemic drove a wedge into our everyday lives. Uncertainty, anxiety, and loneliness were and are governing our lives. Since the onset of the pandemic, the amount of news increased tremendously. These days you can barely find any positive news. All that people see are frightening statistics about new infections, death rates, rules, and regulations. Does this overload of negative news impact our health?

Previous research showed that frequent exposure to negative news on television impacts an individual’s mental life negatively, giving rise to anxiety and the catastrophizing of personal worries. It is demonstrated that exposure to negative news interacts significantly with irrational beliefs which – in turn – positively predict anxiety. Furthermore, it is found that people are generally willing to change their views and attitudes in order to avoid states of uncertainty.

Transferring these findings to the current Corona crisis means that the novelty and uncertainty of the situation could result in trust issues towards the news, which in turn could even lead to the formation of conspiracy theories. The current ubiquity of negative news regarding COVID-19 is problematic because people can hardly avoid and control the news consumption. Experts predict that the high density of negative, frightening, and devastating news in the context of the Corona virus is likely to lead to increased anxiety in the society.

Therefore, we investigate whether there is a relation between the amount of people’s news consumption and both their anxiety and their trust in the news during times of the Covid-19.

What can you do to avoid anxiety? Watch your media consumption carefully: only turn to reputable sources of news, control how often you check the latest news and remember that the amount of news coverage does not equal the size of the threat!

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