Violent social media news linked to psychological trauma

Exposure to violent news in social media can cause symptoms similar to PTSD

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Viewing unedited news and gruesome images present on social media can be traumatising, according to a recent study.

Professions such as healthcare workers are frequently exposed to the suffering of other people and the negative outcomes of their roles to their health are recognized and well documented in numerous studies.

But with the dawn of the social media the public found itself naked in front of the violent stories and graphic images than ever before.

"Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail,” said Dr. Pam Ramsden from University of Bradford, author of the study.

“In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders from viewing these images."

Participants were surveyed over whether they had viewed violent news appearing on social media or the internet and clinically assessed for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

An analysis showed that 22 percent of the 189 participants were indeed affected by what they had seen on social media and their clinical PTSD indicators were high even they were not directly exposed any traumatic events, nor had history of trauma save the events they viewed on internet.

According to Ramsden this is “quite worrying” and there is even a risk “for those with outgoing, extroverted personalities.”

“With increased access to social media and the internet via tablets and smartphones, we need to ensure that people are aware of the risks of viewing these images and that appropriate support is available for those who need it,” Ramsden said.

TRTWorld and agencies