We are now spending as much as 15.5 hours per day consuming media in some form. We want to know what’s happening in the world in relation to COVID-19. We want to know what’s happening with the FBI/Flynn case. We want to know what our favorite celebrities are doing during quarantine. We want to know a lot of things…
Yet our total consumption of media isn’t the only thing that continues to trend sharply upward. Violence in the media has also been increasing year after year, especially the amount of gun violence in top-grossing PG-13 movies – which can be seen by children of all ages. And violence is not exclusive to movies. Media reports of school crime were found to over-represent the potential for danger. To be clear, data shows that less than 1 percent of murders of children occur on school grounds.
And all this exaggeration of violence in the media causes us to come to some pretty inaccurate conclusions about the likelihood of violence and perpetuates the very stereotypes that likely contribute to ongoing violence.
But what about during a national crisis? What is the effect of saturating your brain with information that points to a danger like that of the coronavirus?
As it turns out, it is not much different from exposing your brain to overexaggerated accounts of violence.
The end result is well, acute and chronic stress. In short, this type of exposure makes the danger live on – inside your head. But that’s not all. Numerous studies have shown that viewing violent or fear invoking media causes changes in our brains and behavior, such as increased risk of aggression, increased anxiety, disrupted sleep, increased impulsivity, and risk of addiction, and increased rates of depression.
And yet, we have the choice, every day, to click on the media reports, to scroll through our friends’ Facebook posts, to search for more information about COVID-19. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t do only that. Or better yet, we should adopt a 3 to 1 ration of positive to negative information. This, after all, is the ratio put forth by Author Barbara Frederickson in her book, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveal How To Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity and Thrive to boost happiness.
So maybe next time you want to check the media for the latest news on the coronavirus, think twice. It may likely be better to find something uplifting and positive to view (or do) instead.
Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:
Psychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events.
This course will explore why we are so drawn to traumatic events and how media portrayals of these events influence our thoughts, conclusions, and assumptions about them. It will then discuss how the intersection of trauma and media has evolved to provide a place for celebrity-like attention, political agendas, corporate positioning, and even the repackaging, marketing, and selling of grief.
Lastly, the course will look at the interventions and exercises clinicians can use to help their clients understand the effects of trauma becoming public, how to protect themselves, and most importantly, how to recover from traumatic experience – even when it becomes public. Course #21-23 | 2018 | 44 pages | 15 posttest questions
Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).