The effects misinformation & ‘fake news’ can have on you psychologically

Health Check

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Your phone rings with a notification. You immediately grab it, consuming more information.

This repeatedly occurs throughout our day, constantly causing us to ask ourselves, “Is this true?”

“That becomes taxing itself because you are playing the security, the filter, for yourself, and then you get tired and eventually you start to pull back or become exhausted with informational overload,” said Tony Kubina, licensed clinical psychotherapist for Ascension Via Christi in Manhattan.

Discovering if this post, article, email or other source is truly fact or fiction can be difficult. According to a 2019 study from Ipsos, 86% of online users admitted to falling for fake news.

Cubina recommended being critical of all the information you see, thinking ‘Am I or the source of the information biased in any way?’ or ‘Is this moreso opinion compared to fact?’

“If you look at that information less skeptically it means you’re really, really prone to having that misinformation kind of sink in and end up simply affirming something that may not be true,” said Dr. Michael Young, head of Kansas State University’s Department of Psychological Sciences.

If you continue to do this, Young said false information can lead to real consequences, such as on your career, physical or mental health, or loved ones and our country as a whole.

“It’s not just our personal wellbeing but it affects our relationships with others when I start believing things that are different from you,” Young said. “Then I start thinking that whenever you have that belief, you are somehow morally wrong or morally flawed. That’s going to really undermine, I think, the integrity we have as a society.”

It is important to not entirely immerse yourself in information.

“Something that you see that’s right in front of you or on the screen is not completely your life, it’s just a part of what’s going on,” Kubina said. “Your life is what happens inside and right outside of your house.”

So, step away from the screen every once in a while, and instead do activities that don’t completely bombard you with information, Kubina said.

Kansas State University researchers have curated a list of resources for helping people vet news and information sources. Check them out below:

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