After an initial spike in news consumption during the COVID-19 crisis, more people in the UK now say they are trying to avoid the news – the most common reason being worries about the effect on their mood.

For an increasing number of people, the unending grimness of what they see and hear in the news is just too much, according to research carried out by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

Some 59% of those surveyed in the second week of May said they sometimes actively avoid the news, compared to 49% who said the same thing in mid-April. Some 22% of people said they often or always try to avoid the news (up from 15% in mid-April).

Only 20% of people said they never actively look to avoid the news.

The vast majority of people (86%) who always or often avoid news do so to avoid reporting about the pandemic at least some of the time. And most of these news avoiders said they are primarily worried about the effect the news has on their mood (66%). A third (33%) said they thought there was too much news and 28% said they avoid it because they feel there’s nothing they can do with the information.

Of those who said they actively avoid the news, a third of respondents (32%) said they avoid news because they don’t trust it; this reason jumped to 49% among news avoiders who described themselves as right-wing.

News avoidance is evenly spread across different social groups, and researchers found only small differences based on income, education, and political views.

But there were some age and gender distinctions. Those aged between 25 to 44 are more likely to say they always or often avoid news (28%) than adults under 25 (19%) and above 45 (19%).

And women are significantly more likely to avoid news (26%), than men (18%), which researchers say increases existing “gender inequalities in news use”.

Around a third of people surveyed (30%) think that the COVID-19 situation in the UK is heading in the right direction (down from 35% in mid-April). The number of people who believe the country is on the wrong track has doubled since mid-April from 10% then to 20% now. Just under half (45%) said they believe the picture is mixed.

Sourced from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism