Social media & health
The Internet has become part of the lives of most of us. A large part of the use of the Internet today has to do with persons using social media. With more than a billion users of Facebook and more than 500 million on Twitter, there is no doubt that the use of social media will impact on the health of many users significantly, in a positive or negative way.
Social media provides a means of interacting with people. With today's society becoming so isolating, it becomes an effective means of supporting and even developing relationships. This can positively impact on a person's social health. Some persons use it as a means of crying out for help and allowing persons to become aware of situations that may otherwise have led to a significantly negative outcome. Of course, there is a negative side as well. Some persons use social media to bully and ridicule others and this has led some to commit suicide.
Persons sometime use social media to interact with health-care providers, whether these may be individuals or conglomerates. This way, they can get correct information about health situations that they may have rather than getting wrong and potentially harmful information from friends and loved ones.
Credible sources of information, such as Medscape and WebMD, provide current medical information on social media so that persons, including health-care providers, can be informed about new developments in the medical field. Sometimes, persons who read this information may share the knowledge that they have obtained through social media as well and widen the reach that these sources may have. There seems to be a high level of trust for the information that is shared in this way.
Many health-care providers now have an official presence on social media. This can help to make the public aware of where to access the services of which they or their loved ones might be in need.
The use of social media by some persons may, however, become fanatical. They may start to neglect important responsibilities and other persons as they are caught up in making an impact on social media. Their identity and self-esteem can become very intertwined with their online interactions.
Social media is neither healthy nor unhealthy. It is the interaction that we have with it that will determine its impact on our health.