first person perspective of pointing a remote control at a televisionHaving a hard time relaxing? When recovering from a stressful day at work or school, many people turn towards television, video games, or other media. Researchers from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands find that, for the exceptionally stressed, stress relief by using media is not that simple. People who are extremely stressed tend to feel guilty, not reinvigorated, from watching TV or playing video games. The results suggest the need for multiple methods of relaxation.

The researchers surveyed 417 participants for the study. The participants reported on the events of the previous day, including how they felt after work or school and what types of media they consumed at the end of the day.

Participants who were especially drained from work or school were more likely to see their media use as wasting time or procrastinating. They felt guilty for indulging in television, video games, or computer games instead of attending to more important tasks. As a result, the most stressed of the participants felt less revitalized by their media use.

Other studies have shown that media can be used to help people recover from stress and relax. “Our present study is an important step towards a deeper understanding of this. It demonstrates that in real life the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life,” stated Dr. Leonard Reinecke, lead study author.

This research is published in the Journal of Communication.

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