Coronavirus | Gadget dependence can lead to spreading of misinformation: NIMHANS

Anxiety increases the need for socialisation and sharing information irrespective of whether it was true or false, say researchers

With the State government ordering the closure of some commercial establishments giving employees work from home options, people are turning to the Internet to deal with their anxiety and stress.

However, this behaviour can result in the spread of rumours and misinformation as the average time spent on gadgets has increased drastically in the last couple of days.

The Service for Healthy use of Technology (SHUT) clinic at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has found that lack of correct information and uncertainty/ apprehension among people combined with the lack of socialization is leading towards dependence on Internet-based technology devices. These situations can often lead to rumours spreading.

These findings were based on focused group discussions after India reported people testing positive for COVID-19. The researchers found that people are glued to their mobile phones and are scrolling for new updates on COVID-19. A lot of misinformation on the internet is widespread and people are glued to their technology tools.

“This is applicable to even patients who come to us regularly and want to get over their technology addiction. We are seeing a surge in technology use among them as well as there are no social gatherings and no physical movement. The technology usage of our patients is up by at least 30%” said Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional professor, SHUT clinic.

He added, “When anxiety is high, the likelihood of receptivity to rumours also stands is high. Anxiety increases the need for socialization and sharing information irrespective of whether it was true or false.” The opposite is also true. When anxiety is low, it would be insufficient to motivate its transmission.

Dr. Sharma has said people should have an accurate source of information and rely on checking facts and information twice before developing a strong belief. Those working from home should try to spend less time on the internet and focus on doing offline activities with their family members.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 1:34:11 AM |

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