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Published on August 24, 2023

Saturation Point: Does Constant Online News and Social Media Contribute to Anxiety?

Headlines, notifications, app updates, adverts. We live in a society where every minute of every hour of every day can be populated by messages. Round the clock, round the world, online news and media are unrelenting. From televisions to the perhaps more insidious online platforms, it is almost impossible to escape these bombardments with anything short of a total digital detox. But not many people actually do that now, do they? I thought not, and I certainly haven’t, not yet at least. 

So does this mean we have reached, or are hurtling, cascading and tumbling towards something of a saturation point? Moreover, does the landscape of ubiquitous news, profusions of social media platforms and the metronomic regularity of news and media in our lives do anything to our mental health? Personally, I suspect it could be argued that there can be a correlation between too much online time and moods. 

After all, a detox, as in digital, is supposed to refresh, reinvigorate, recharge, and reset, so surely that backs up my hypothesis? Of course, the overwhelming majority of us enjoy our online time and do it responsibly. From fun and relationship forging online dating apps, or getting a harmless, fun-filled daily fix of playing casino games or online pokies and having a flutter, being online is something people do as a leisure activity, normally and reasonably. 

Online Fatigue: Time For A Break? 

With an increasing amount of time and money being spend on the effects of online addictions, or the lesser issue of simply spending too much time online for whatever reason, it is clear that online fatigue has become a genuine issue for concern. Discussing it is the first step. Perhaps there is such as thing as too much, perhaps it contributes to levels of anxiety. It’s a complicated question, but one worth asking and looking into

Addressing it can be difficult but online fatigue is too important to brush under the carpet. So where is the line? When does a healthy love of online news or attention to apps become an online addiction or stray into territory that would, perhaps, suggest we need a break? 

Online fun and online fatigue, close bedfellows. Needing a break from things is not a new concept, but since the birth of the internet, taking a digital break has become increasingly difficult. As I mentioned previously, online fatigue can be serious. Constant news updates can be as depressing as they are informative, and the constant background hum of online media has made many people not just reliant on instant news but addicted to it. 

As many phycologists will likely attest, online fatigue is real. Headaches, stress, mood swings, changes in social behaviour, all can be seen as symptoms of being online too much. When you think about it, online news and social media updates are non-stop. Mobile apps and news platform updates give people so called FOMO (fear of missing out), and some people will even replace sleep with online activity, such is the draw, as powerful is the pull. At that point, how could it not be time for a break? 

News And Nerves, Updates And Upset: When Does Media Become Too Much? 

As we search for, seek, and look to unearth something of a conclusion related to our article thesis, the question arises: How much is too much? How much online time is acceptable, necessary, agreeable, and how much is over the top, excessive, even harmful? Again, it’s not a one size fits all situation, meaning it’s not a one size fits all answer. Some people are online all day due to work, some are on all night due to their love of gaming. Others have innumerable apps updating them minute to minute, 24/7, others are more casual with their use. 

Put simply, I would suspect that most people, applying a modicum of common sense, know what too much represents for them. Ultimately, it’s a self-regulating situation, but sometimes it takes so called social media anxiety or upset for people to recognise the need for said regulation. News and media outlets, platforms, apps, all contribute to this, but surely they cannot be assigned blame, as people are free to use, or not use them as they choose. But is it really that simple an equation? 

Again, individual responsibility, but then again, online addiction is just as real as any other addition. Alcohol, gambling (online as well as in person, of course), illegal drugs, prescription drugs, the list goes on, but the addictions are real. As is online news addition, or online gaming addition, or simply the addiction to being online for whatever, often a multitude of reasons. It is hard to deny that online activities can often contribute to, or in extreme cases be the underlying cause for anxiety of varying degrees of severity. That is for professionals to decide but is something we can certainly discuss to help bring it out into the open and, perhaps, help people along the way.

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