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Five Ways You Can Use Social Media to Benefit Your Health

     

Many articles have been written on how social media can be detrimental to your health, but there are ways to use it for your benefit. Here are five ways you can use social media to improve your health.

1. Using Social Platforms as a Research Tool

Researching your illness, paying attention to new studies and treatments allow people to better manage their chronic conditions. Twitter is a great resource to follow researchers, health news, the NIH and CDC, as they post articles online regarding various health topics. According to Pew Research, “living with chronic disease is also associated, once someone is online, with a greater likelihood to access user-generated health content such as blog posts, hospital reviews, doctor reviews, and podcasts.” These resources allow people to use “the internet as a communications tool, not simply an information vending machine.”2

2. Training Older Adults in Social Media to Combat Isolation

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A two-year project funded by the European Union and led by researchers at the University of Exeter provided a group of vulnerable older adults with access and training in the use of social media. They found the social media use improved cognitive capacity, increased a sense of self-competence and may have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being. So, take the time to teach your parents or grandparents to video chat online and stay connected.

3. Meet Your Health Goals

Want to maintain a regular walking schedule? Run a marathon? Lose a few pounds or more? There are apps and online communities to help you. One study found that people who shared their weight loss plans and progress online lost more weight than those who didn’t share. Social support can be a major part of making/keeping new healthier habits, providing inspiration and helping keep you accountable.

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4. Find Support in Groups

Bonding with others who have been down the same road to recovery can help you keep your goals. You can find support groups for alcohol and opioid use and gambling disorder recovery, and for coping with depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum challenges and more. Sharing your story can help others too. You can follow any number of groups on Twitter and join public or private groups on Facebook. Online communities like Reddit have forums where people living with depression can connect with others – even checking in with each other online if someone is feeling suicidal.

5. Strengthen Your Family Ties and Friendships

While most of our social media time may be spent viewing cat hijinks or avoiding game requests from the latest fad on Facebook, it can also keep us in close contact with people we love and who are important to us. A study of 900 college students and recent grads found that 47 percent said regular communication with friends who live in a different state or country was very important to them. Average Facebook users also have more discussions with their closest friends regarding important topics than other online users. Messenger video chat, private messaging and now the “add to your day” picture/video option allows users to connect and stay engaged with their friends Facebook “Story.”

References/Resources

     

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