Violent news on social media can cause symptoms like PTSD
No matter how frivolous social media can seem, viewing violent news on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter can have serious consequences. In fact, according to researchers at the University of Bradford in the U.K., it can cause symptoms similar to those associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The scientists analyzed 189 study participants with an average age of 37 years old, and almost evenly split between men and women. They completed clinical assessments for PTSD, a personality test, a trauma test, and a questionnaire regarding various violent news events on social media or the internet, including the 9/11 attacks, school shootings, and suicide bombings.
The results, presented today at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society, revealed that 22 percent of the participants were significantly affected by what they viewed, scoring high on the PTSD questionnaire. This was despite the fact that the participants had no previous trauma history and were not present at the traumatic events; they only viewed them on social media. Those who watched such events more frequently were most affected, and those who had outgoing, extroverted personalities were also more likely to be affected.
The researchers noted that these findings shed more light on the increasing mental health issues tied to the prominence and omnipresence of social media today.