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Many of your clients and patients are feeling more mental health effects lately—especially since the pandemic. We all are. 🙁 Lower moods are definitely a “thing” now. And so is the bad news we seem to be bombarded with these days. But, does one really cause the other?

A recent study tested the impact of exposure to negative news on social media and moods. Psychologists designed a high-quality randomized control trial (RCT) and measured the effect of negative news “doom-scrolling” and positive news “kindness-scrolling” on the feelings of positivity and negativity. It was the first RCT that measured the direct effect of social media on moods!

By understanding the impact of just 2-4 minutes of doom-scrolling, we can help your clients know that this mood drop is totally normal and common. And, we can give them a few strategies to try to prevent and counter those impacts and empower them to actively participate in self-care for their peace of mind.

Introducing a done-for-you pre-written Health scoop (new study update) to share this information with your clients and patients along with a few practical tips.

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Product Details:

Document Type: MS Word

Release Date: April 2022

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This Health scoop (new study update) was created to help you consistently stay in touch with your email subscribers while keeping you up-to-date with some of the most fascinating recent studies and includes:

  • A short primer for your clients on the association between bad news, social media use, and negative moods

  • How this study was the first to be able to show that just 2-4 minutes of doom-scrolling can drop your mood (and that yes, the doom-scrolling *caused* the mood drop, not the other way around)

  • Several strategies on how to minimize the impact on mental health without preaching to give up all social media (plus there are recommendations for you to link to your self-care resources and other related content to help your audience and establish your credibility even more)

Consistently provide valuable, research-based health content to your audience without spending the time and effort to do the research and writing yourself.

Price: US$37

Easy-to-understand study summary with some practical strategies and tips for your clients

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Customizable health study summary with practical tips

Release the pressure to create new health content every week and share study summaries and tips with your email subscribers and/or social media followers
Price: US$37

Related topics: Stress; mental health; social media; self-care

Backgrounder articles: Link to a consumer-facing article by the study authors on their research into the mental health impacts of doom-scrolling and kindness-scrolling

Study design: High-quality randomized control trial (RCT) with hundreds of participants in one of three groups: COVID-19 doom-scrolling, COVID-19 kindness-scrolling, or the control group; after 2-4 minutes on social media (or none for the control group) they measured both positive mood and negative mood to help us better understand whether negative social media news *causes* lower moods (hint: it does)

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Customization tips: 7 customization tips included

Email/mini-article: The easy-to-understand new study update is included along with a few strategies to minimize impacts of negative social media on mental health

Plus, a few more suggestions on what to add to your email newsletter after this Health scoop (new study update) to make it more than just educational, but also to build trust and market your health practice.

You have the flexibility to turn this done-for-you Health scoop (new study update) into any and all of these:

  • One mini blog post, epic email newsletter, and/or several social media posts with easy-to-understand health information and a couple of strategies for your readers to easily implement that knowledge to take care of their mental health.
  • A foundation to record a short-but-sweet science-backed trust-building video, podcast episode, or social post talking about the fascinating new study.

*Please don’t re-sell or distribute this Health scoop to other healthcare professionals or anyone else for their business/commercial use or in any way that earns them money or marks/grades/credits for their education. Please don’t submit it anywhere else as your own (i.e., as a guest post or to your school). NOTE: By purchasing this mini-article, you are the only one granted a limited license to use it (and there are only 73 licenses).

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Click to view the reference for this Health scoop

Buchanan, K., Aknin, L. B., Lotun, S., & Sandstrom, G. M. (2021). Brief exposure to social media during the COVID-19 pandemic: Doom-scrolling has negative emotional consequences, but kindness-scrolling does not. PloS one, 16(10), e0257728. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0257728

About the study:

  • Before this study, research showed that there was a link between mental health and social media use—especially during the pandemic. It wasn’t clear whether people with poorer mental health sought out more negative news or whether the negative news worsened mental health. (This is what is meant by “correlation does not equal causation”—we knew there was a link, but no studies were yet designed to sort out if one thing *caused* the other.) This is why we put more weight on randomized control trials (RCTs) than we do just about all other types of studies. Well-designed RCTs can help sort out if one thing causes another. This study on doom-scrolling was designed to find out by randomly assigning people to groups and having them watch curated feeds of social media and then using standardized tests to measure their emotional state.
  • Here’s a blog post I wrote on the concept of “correlation does not equal causation”: https://leesaklich.com/health-research/correlation-does-not-equal-causation/
  • Previous studies on the subject of doom-scrolling asked people how much time they spent on social media (they didn’t measure it). We know that people are naturally not great at accurately estimating things they did in the past, like “time on social media” or “how much broccoli you ate in the past 3 months.” This trial was designed to have a timer on the social media exposure so that all participants watched their social stream (depending on which group they were in) for 2-4 minutes. This short timeframe also allowed researchers to learn about the effects of even brief exposures to different types of posts on social media.
  • “We examine the emotional consequences of exposure to brief snippets of COVID-related news via a Twitter feed (Study 1), or a YouTube reaction video (Study 2). Compared to a no-information exposure group, consumption of just 2–4 minutes of COVID-related news led to immediate and significant reductions in positive affect (Studies 1 and 2) and optimism (Study 2). Exposure to COVID-related kind acts did not have the same negative consequences, suggesting that not all social media exposure is detrimental for well-being.”
  • Conclusion: “Although information-seeking is generally an adaptive coping strategy in times of threat, doing so during a pandemic may be less helpful. Unlike most world events, the threat of the current pandemic affects many life domains (relationships, education, work, leisure), and there is uncertainty about how long it will last, and what will happen next. Even a few minutes of exposure to COVID-related news on social media can ruin a person’s mood. We would all do well to be mindful of these effects and consider balancing our doom-scrolling with some kindness-scrolling.”
  • Because this was an RCT, this study had several strengths including the above-noted designs that people were randomly assigned to a group, their positive and negative affects and optimism were measured right afterward, and the exposure was limited to 2-4 minutes.
  • While this study didn’t, other studies have shown elevated moods with positive news. More research is always recommended to dive even deeper into these issues and try to answer these questions under different conditions (e.g., 10 minutes of exposure, or platforms other than Twitter and YouTube, or different measures of mental health, etc.) to see if the mental health effects all still point in the same direction or not. 😀
  • Therefore, we can say that, according to this study, just 2-4 minutes of COVID-19 news on social media in the midst of a pandemic can decrease your mood. If more, bigger, or stronger studies test for this in different ways and corroborate this finding, we will have a much more robust evidence base to make even more definitive statements.
  • Study strength is rated a 6/7 according to this chart (randomized control trial): https://www.compoundchem.com/2015/04/09/scientific-evidence/ 

Price: US$37

Easy-to-understand study summary with some practical strategies and tips for your clients

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*** Discount is automatically applied at checkout when you have 4 in your cart ***

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