It is doubtless that social media is hugely influential and has a large impact on many aspects of our lives; we use it to stay up to date with trends and current events and share things with friends and family. We use various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, and many others for an extraordinary amount of time – an average of about 106 minutes per day.
Of course, there are many pros and cons to social media with the rise of digital networking, but many sources of mass media seem to tend to put social media use in a negative light. For example, a post by Huffington explained that excessive use of social media use may over time contribute to poor mental health. But while this article states that there are some studies that do suggest a correlation between social media habits and mental well-being, there is no basis for causality. Social media and mental health are both multi-faceted and complex each in their own way, and we should tread lightly around exaggerated claims of causation.
On the other hand, some suggest social media can be a very helpful resource for some health conditions. Social media offers a unique means of fostering support and sharing information. This methodological review, conducted at the University of Melbourne reviewed and analyzed studies that investigated such benefits in relation to chronic disease management, and found that some studies examined social media’s impact in chronic disease management to be positive, and none were found that suggested negative effects. However, many studies turned out to have covered a narrow range of social media platforms, and older ones, including discussion forums and online support groups. This review of past literature indicates that that social media can become a more meaningful and effective tool for chronic disease management if individual intervention methods can be delivered, but more research must be conducted in order to further investigate such affordances.
Like many other sources of media that rose with the new digital age, social media has apparent pros and cons. Questions that should be asked as such platforms evolve include, how can social media be used to promote awareness for certain health conditions, and what can be done to best accommodate affected individuals? To what extent does social media negatively impact the mental health of the general public, and is this redeemed by the many positive ways social media is used by specific populations?