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Tech Takeover: Are You Doomscrolling Again?

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BALA CYNWYD, Pa. (WLVT) — These days, there’s plenty of bad news to go around.

Watch: Check out more tech reports from PBS39's Megan Frank

Whether you're checking out the latest coronavirus case numbers, or reading about the arrival of murder hornets in the U.S., negative news can create feelings of fear and anxiety.

"Doomscrolling or doomsurfing is this rabbit hole that we sort of fall down into when we’re on social media or reading internet news. We find ourselves in this vortex that we can’t get out of," Dr. Rachel Brandoff told PBS39. Brandoff teaches at Thomas Jefferson University's Department of Counseling and Behavioral Therapy.

She says it's important to stay informed, while noting that it's equally important to unplug.

"It’s this 24 hour news cycle that makes us feel that if we’re not read up on things, we’re falling behind," said Brandoff. "We also carry what we see during doomscrolling with us. If doomscrolling makes you feel upset or angry at the world, you may transfer that to others as that feeling festers within you."

Dr. Rob Hindman, a clinical psychologist at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Montgomery County, says setting a time limit is key.

"One story is going to lead to the next. That’s how news sites are organized. So, you have to commit to only being online for a certain amount of time," Hindman told PBS39. "We read more because we’re trying to gain some type of control over the information, which can cause anxiety. Ask yourself, what can I do about this now? With Covid, you can take the necessary precautions, you can wear a mask. Break it down for yourself."

Hindman says for most people, doomscrolling is a bad habit, and not necessarily an addictive behavior. Still, he says a bad habit can impact your life in negative ways.

"When you’re taken out of the experience, that emotion doesn’t just go away. You’re in an amped up emotional state. So, even while you’re eating dinner, these feelings stay with you," said Hindman.

Brandoff suggests balancing the negative news with positive stories, too.

"Look for opportunities to read posts about the wins, not just the challenges. Find that little bit of uplift that we all need sometimes," said Brandoff.

Her biggest tip: Turn off your devices and do something that you enjoy.

Watch the video version of this story in the player below.

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