Survey finds Americans social media habits changing as national tensions rise

August 03, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio - As national tensions rise, a new national survey of 2,000 people commissioned by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds more Americans are adjusting how they use social media platforms.

Many participants cited stress from the global COVID-19 pandemic, along with the movement to end racial inequality and other divisive political issues in our country as reasons for taking a social media break.

While it may seem impossible to disconnect and step away from social media, some survey participants reported changing their social media habits this year. The survey found:It's easy to feel overwhelmed by information, opinions and arguments while scrolling through social media channels, said Ken Yeager, Ph.D., director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

"Stepping away and reconnecting with reality offline is an important step to take for your mental health," Yeager said. "Being constantly immersed in this stressful environment and being overexposed to contentious or traumatic events can make you feel like the world is a less safe place to be. And because these stressors have persisted over a long period of time, it's wearing on people's ability to cope with that stress."

Across the United States, there's been an increase in cases of depression, anxiety, suicidality and substance abuse over the past several months, said Yeager, who is a clinical professor in The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

"Even though you can't control what happens on social media, it's important to recognize how it may affect you and take steps to limit your exposure," Yeager said.

He offers these tips to go on a social media diet:Anyone who is regularly feeling panicked or having trouble controlling their mood or connecting with others should seek help from a mental health professional to learn ways to cope, Yeager said.
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The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

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