The Trauma of Violent News on the Internet

Shamsheer Kailey

Violence permeates our world, always has and will continue to as long as mankind believes it has power. In the world of old media – print, radio, and TV – the information presented to the world was edited and controlled. However, with the advent of internet, smartphones, and social media, there is no restriction on the content and amount of visual and written information being directed at people. The effect of prolonged exposure to violence related media through the internet leads to vicarious traumatization.

“A key distinction between consuming news on the internet versus print or TV is the constant access and ability to sink into deep rabbit holes for the former, as the Boston Marathon study demonstrates.” The study, conducted in 2013, compared the acute stress symptoms for those with “direct exposure” to Boston Marathon bombing and those who had only media exposure. The results indicated higher acute stress among those exposed to six or more daily hours of bombing related media exposure.

While traditional media provides a filter – shut off TV or don’t read the newspaper, no such measure is available for social media where comments by users also adds to the offensiveness and trauma. Live streaming of disturbing events and constant access to news and articles allows a person to dig deeper and deeper into details of the incident which results in trauma.


Teddy Wayne, The Trauma of Violent News on the Internet, N.Y. Times (September 13, 2016),