When we were children, our parents used to admonish us for the amount of time we spent staring at the television, believing that either the programming or the technology was going to rot out brains.
Of course, this was often said half in jest, the way that the world warned us about how our teeth rotting out if we drank too much soda, or how we’d go blind if we spent too much time, um, well…you know.
But a new study regarding the mainstream “news” media seems to provide a little corroboration for this old wives’ tale.
Researchers at Texas Tech University found that Americans who obsessively follow the news are more likely to suffer from both physical and mental health problems, including anxiety and stress.
Those who constantly check the latest headlines end up with “significantly greater physical ill-being” than those who tune in less often, according to the findings. The team adds that constantly keeping on top of the latest developments can lead to a vicious cycle where people always check for more updates, rather than tuning out after a quick read.
The issues were very real:
Study authors found 16.5 percent of participants in their experiment showed signs of “severely problematic” news consumption. That meant they often became so immersed and personally invested in news stories that current events dominated their thoughts, disrupted time with family and friends, made it difficult to focus on school or work, and contributed to restlessness an inability to sleep.
Almost three-quarters (73.6%) with severe levels of problematic news consumption experienced mental ill-being “quite a bit” or “very much” compared with just eight percent of all participants overall. The study also found that more than three in five (61%) news addicts experienced physical ill-being “quite a bit” or “very much” compared with just six percent of everyone else.
This, as if we needed any more reason to turn off CNN and MSNBC.