In the wake of violent events like mass shootings or natural disasters, people who watch the most media coverage of the story are more likely to show post-traumatic stress symptoms months later, a small U.S. study suggests. After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, researchers repeatedly surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. adults who hadn’t been involved in the events.
“We found that individuals who consumed more bombing-related media in the aftermath of the bombings were more likely to exhibit post traumatic stress symptoms and fear of future negative events over time – and they were then more likely to consume more media in the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida three years later,” said senior study author Roxane Cohen Silver of the University of California, Irvine.
Consumed media in the aftermath
The more individuals consume media in the aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub massacre, the more distress they report in response to that mass violence event,” Silver said by email. “Trauma-relate media exposure perpetuates a cycle of increase distress and media use over time. Some previous research suggests that people are drawn to wall-to-wall news coverage of traumatic events as a way to ease their apprehension and cope with stress, the study team notes.
But the current study, publish April 17 in Science Advances, suggests this can backfire. Researchers find that repeate exposure to explicit violent content may exacerbate fear about future traumatic events; which in turn fuels more consumption of media coverage about the next bombing or shooting. People are particularly vulnerable to this cycle of distress; so when they have personally experience violence or when they have diagnose; hence with a mental health disorder, the study team notes.
To understand the connection between stress and draw to media coverage of tragedies; so researchers surveyed participants four times: shortly after the marathon bombing and nightclub shooting happened; six months later, and after one and three years. Two years after the Boston bombing, people who had previously display symptoms; hence of post-traumatic stress were more apt to worry about the potential for tragedy to strike again.
Symptoms of stress after the Pulse shooting
And this worry was associate with tuning in to more media coverage and more symptoms; hence of stress after the Pulse shooting. It may be hard to do; but some people really may need to turn off the news, said Ziming Xuan of the Boston University School of Public Health. We do not know how much is too much, but if one feels not comfortable already; so it is wise to refrain from further exposure and to speak to someone who can help,” Xuan, who wasn’t involve in the study, said by email.
This is perhaps more important for children and young adults who are increasingly expose to social media; also for those who experience PTSD,” Xuan added. Not all media are the same, and the amount of stress; hence some people experience may depend on where they’re getting their information, said Aaron Kivisto; so a psychology researcher at the University of Indianapolis who wasn’t involve in the study.
There’s a tremendous amount of variability in the types of media accessible to the public; also some options present a clear risk of traumatization and no amount of consumption be consider safe,” Kivisto said by email. While most acts of mass violence cover by the media soften the visible realities of the situation; so internet connect viewers are able to traumatize themselves unwittingly at the click of a button,” Kivisto advised.