This month, let’s talk about Social Media Effects On Health. We sure do a lot of tweeting, posting, and chatting while we scroll through the feeds of today’s social media outlets. Social media has deeply impacted our world, and often times those effects are subtle. As a doctor and a person living in the 21st century, I believe it is very important to understand how social media affects our well-being, and also how it effects our healthcare decisions.
Social Media Effects On Health Good Or Bad – Both!
Facebook, twitter, and the like serve to connect people, both those who are as close as the next room and from far away.
Psychology has shown that people not only thrive on social interaction, but depend on it for mental health and stability. While social media may seem to help connect, it can also help us feel more isolated and alone. If one focuses on the lives of others as presented on sites like Facebook, they can feel inadequate and anxious in a constant digital effort of “keeping up with the Jones’s.” Furthermore, cyberbullying and other forms of online nastiness, have exposed people to the negativity of others. Medical News Today, and other sources, have recently published studies showing some negative mental health effects of social media.
Click here to the study on how social media impacts mental health
While these effects may be disheartening, they are understandable in this day and age when we are bombarded by content. To protect yourself from feeling isolated, inadequate, or anxious from social media, I recommend monitoring how often you go back to social media, and how it makes you feel. Reducing time spent checking statuses, coupled with a healthy dose of self-assuredness will go a long way.
Using Social Media to discuss or find health information. In addition to the impact social media has on our mental health, it has also changed the way we discover and share health related information. It is excellent that the internet and social media have given people access to health information that can improve their lives. Pew Research has published a study on the how social media affects the way we get health information, and how it can enable people to make good health decisions. Many people post information about their health care, treatment, and other experiences online. Health care practitioners, myself included, use social media to provide health information to our friends, family, and patients. Click here to see the study on social media and healthcare
It is also important to remember that much of the information on the internet is ambiguous and subjective, and health related information is no different. It is absolutely vital to have accurate health information so you can best take care of you mind and body.
Where can I get reliable health information online? Where you get your information is one of the best ways of making sure what you are reading is reliable. The most valuable information comes from the Original Research, but that is usually presented in a way that requires an M.D. education to decipher and apply. Luckily there are a few reliable sources that patients and lay people can turn to translate the dense research into usable and understandable language.
When looking for health information, here are some of the most reliable sites that I refer patients to:
However, internet research and social media cannot be a suitable replacement for seeing the doctor. All of this information needs to be applied to your unique situation in the broader context of your overall health. Bottom line, sure use it as a reference, and to gather information but decisions need to be made with your doctor. Keeping informed can help you reach the best health decisions, and your doctor is the key part of that process.
What sites have you found are the most helpful to you? I would love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to send comments below.
For more digital ways to improve your health, you may also like my article on Best Apps to Achieve Your Fitness Goals.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy life! Dr. Johnson