On the internet, we find a lot of entertainment, but it can also become an overload of information.

How we use media to escape from reality

Media can help in an uncertain everyday life, but all the choices can also make it difficult to disconnect.

Maybe you have a favourite series you turn on when things are a bit difficult? Or do you watch funny videos on TikTok to distract yourself?

You are not alone in this. Many people do this, and it has been done for a long time.

‘A break from the exhausting’

Vilde Schanke Sundet is a researcher at the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at OsloMet.

Sundet explains that it's not new for many people to use the media as an escape from reality. The media is a source of information, but it can also be a place where one can unwind.

“There’s a lot of pressure in society in general. Media serves as a respite from these exhausting aspects,” she says.

Endless choices

Streaming services and social media compete for our attention. This means that we have a lot to choose from.

Sundet says that it can be exhausting. There is so much to choose from that it can be difficult to make a good choice.

“Audiences want both short media content and something they can have a long-term relationship with. Starting to watch a series with several seasons and episodes may seem like a big commitment,” Sundet explains.

Always available

Ole Jacob Madsen is a professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo. He highlights the accessibility of media today.

Since online newspapers and social media are updated around the clock, you can always be connected. Therefore, some young people choose to shield themselves.

“There’s a self-care aspect related to digital media. It doesn't necessarily make you feel better, but it doesn't make you feel worse,” Madsen explains.

Many young people also seek out positive news as a contrast to all the negative things they see online.

Large amounts of difficult content

It can be challenging to know what to do with information that seems overwhelming and distressing.

Doomscrolling is the act of continuing to read negative content and news on your phone even though it actually makes you sad or worried.

“Doomscrolling has become more normal, and there are many tips on how to shield yourself from being depressed by the media,” Madsen says.

One piece of advice is to set a time limit on your phone, and another is to watch something nice and cosy instead, according to American psychologist and researcher Megan E. Johnson. She also tells The Wire magazine that it might be wise to have a rule about not using your phone in bed.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik

Read the Norwegian version of this article on ung.forskning.no

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