To avoid falling into COVID anxiety, keep a good distance from the TV
Although the state of emergency has been removed, when the TV is turned on, news and
talk shows continue to report about the new coronavirus infection every day.
Do you feel increasingly anxious while watching them?
There are studies investigating how talk shows affect the minds and behaviors of viewers.
According to this, it seems that a proper sense of distance is required.
Survey on the impact of talk shows on more than 20,000 people
What kind of information did you trust about the COVID, what kind of feelings did you have,
and what kind of infection prevention actions did you take?
There are surveys that have done this at the national level.
A survey was conducted by Professor Keisuke Kuwahara of the Graduate School of Public
Health, Teikyo University, and was reported at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Japanese
Epidemiology Society held from January 27 to 29.
This survey was conducted online from August to September 2020, targeting 25,482 men
and women over the age of 15 who participated in the “Social and Health Disparity
Evaluation Study on the COVID-19 Problem in Japan (JACSIS)”.
①Sources of information about COVID (20 types including TV news, talk shows,
government agency reports, and from families)
② Reliability of the above information
③ Feelings about COVID (degree of fear, anxiety about other people’s infection prevention
④ Behavior (whether you have paid attention to your own infection prevention behavior or
others who have not taken infection prevention behavior)
They questioned them to learn how sources and their credibility affect their emotions and
The more they watch talk shows, the greater their fear and anxiety.
The result is that those who faithfully watched talk shows were, statistically, significantly
more afraid of the COVID infection due to watching the news than those who did not. They
became anxious about other people’s infection preventive actions.
It seems that this tendency did not change, even if the habitual use of other sources was
In other words, it means that even if you get information from other sources such as those
from government offices and from your family, you will be strongly influenced by talk shows.
Also, surprisingly, “people who trusted and watched talk shows” tend to worry, but they also
tend to practice infection prevention such as washing their hands with soap and wearing a
mask in populated places, which had not been particularly strong.
However, the report says that those people had a strong tendency to scrutinize others who
did not take preventive measures against infection.
Is there an aspect of “COVID disaster = information disaster”?
Professor Yoshiaki Hashimoto of Tokyo Women’s Christian University, the writer of ‘Did the
state of emergency change people’s behavior and consciousness?’ (Maruzen Publishing),
pointed out there that such talk shows also increased anxiety and aggravated a sense of
crisis as news related to COVID was presented every day on TV programs such as talk
In addition, according to a survey conducted by Professor Hashimoto and others, the most
cited event that powerfully alerted people to the danger of COVID was Ken Shimura’s death.
The main sources of information from which they learned about it were online articles and
television (from ‘Did the state of emergency change people’s behavior and consciousness?’).
In response to this, it has been specified that the COVID disaster is an “information disaster.”
Information can help relieve anxiety, or it can increase anxiety.
While TV talk shows deliver information to viewers in an easy-to-understand manner, they
may be over-processed to attract viewers’ interests. It may be necessary to maintain a
proper sense of distance.