The COVID-19 infodemic at your fingertips. Reciprocal relationships between COVID-19 information FOMO, bedtime smartphone news engagement, and daytime tiredness over time

Kevin Koban, Ariadne Neureiter, Anja Stevic, Jörg Matthes

Considering that insufficient sleep has long been regarded as a significant public health challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic and its co-evolving infodemic have further aggravated many people's sleep health. People's engagement with pandemic-related news, particularly given that many people are now permanently online via smartphones, has been identified as a critical factor for sleep health, such that public health authorities have recommended limited news exposure. This two-wave panel survey, conducted with a representative sample in Austria during its first COVID-19 lockdown, examines (a) how fear of missing out on pandemic-related news (i.e., COVID-19 information FOMO) is reciprocally related to smartphone-based bedtime news engagement, as well as (b) how both bedtime news engagement and COVID-19 information FOMO predict daytime tiredness. Partial metric measurement invariant structural equation modeling revealed that COVID-19 information FOMO and bedtime news engagement are reciprocally associated over time, indicating a potentially harmful reinforcing loop. However, results further suggested that COVID-19 information FOMO may be the primary driver of daytime tiredness, not smartphone-based bedtime news engagement. These findings suggest that a perceived loss of (informational) control over the pandemic outbreak more strongly than poor sleep habits accounts for depleted energy resources during lockdown. However, given the initial evidence for a reinforcing loop, this effect pattern may change in the long term.

Department of Communication
Computers in Human Behavior
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Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science
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