INFORMATION OVERLOAD
Reader's Digest UK|December 2020
In our social media age, we have constant access to news cycles, accessing global information at the touch of a button. But what effect is this constant connection having on our mental health? Shahed Ezaydi investigates
Shahed Ezaydi

THE NEWS IS EVERYWHERE. It’s on our TV screens, on the radio, and on the social media apps we scroll through on our phones. It’s simply never been easier to access and consume news— we can read about any headline, any topic, in most parts of the world 24/7. So, with the rise of the 24-hour news cycle, it’s no wonder that our news consumption has rapidly increased over the years.

According to Ofcom, the average adult watched 98 hours of TV news in 2019. They also found that television was the most used platform for news (75 per cent), followed by the internet (65), and social media (45).

Due to the fast-paced nature of the news cycle, it's not uncommon to feel an ever-present need to stay in the loop. Chris Cooper, life coach and founder of Life Complete, has worked with a number of clients regarding news consumption. He says that, “the way news is presented to us can create and feed our addiction, leading us to feel that if we aren’t constantly plugging into the news, we are missing out on information that is vital and we need to know right now.”

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 only further illustrates our constant need for the news. The daily press briefings given between the months of March and June brought in high viewing figures, with Boris Johnson's televised address on March 23 drawing in a record 27 million viewers. At the very height of the pandemic, a lot more of us were accessing the news, and on a much more regular basis. But it seems our interest and need for all this news might be waning, as levels of news consumption have come back down again. Are these falling figures due to a lack of interest, or a case of news fatigue? I’ve always been the kind of person to check the news throughout the day, and this increased during the early months of the pandemic. Increased consumption definitely led to higher anxiety levels, and a sense of fatigue.

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