OK? So far, we have been having a look at research– some of the research relating games and health. And we have seen that, while some researchers have found a disadvantage on the games for health, some other can find a lot of advantages of using the games to improve health outcomes. Now, we will have a look at social media for health– to the research. OK? Let’s have a look at social media. First of all, we can see that the online social media are increasingly popular worldwide. In fact, in January 2015 has been estimated that over 2 billions will be of active social media worldwide. These represent 28% of the total population.
And if we have a look at the most social media around the world, here, in this graph, we can see that Facebook is so far the most common used social media worldwide. It has more than one billion of users. Next there is the QQ, with the Chinese social medium. ICQ, WhatsApp, the Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Google+ Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and more.
Because the social media is being used by a huge amount of people worldwide, and it’s used almost every day, it represents a promising space for promoting health behaviour or publishing information related to health, for exchanging information with some other users that are interests on the same topic. However, the same as we have seen before, with the games, the social media also have been related with bad and good consequences for health. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the social media for health. Let’s start first with a publication advising on potential negative effects of the social media on health.
To understand these negative effects, we have to take into account the principle of the social medium, which is that anyone can publish on it. This means that not all the health-related information probably on the social media is going to show the label information.
Because right now there is no control on the quality of information posted on the main social media. And it is also possible to find rumours, malicious information, with this potential psychological impact for the social-media consumers. Here, you can have a look. It’s just an example of a popular Facebook fan page, which has over 14,000 consumers. Here you can see that only with its names, which is sarcastic bipolar a wrong society is only with a name is stigmatising people affected with this disorder. But it’s not only about the stigma. There is information on the social media. We can also find some other information that can potentially produce a harm effect on the consumers.
For example, it is possible, also, to find material on the social media like a pro-tobacco front page or groups selling or promoting drugs, like this Facebook front page promoting the marijuana. Also can be found public display of unhealthy behaviour on the social media, like self-injury behaviours. You can also find people advising on how to commit suicide. There are pro-anorexic groups, like this one, that you can find in YouTube. Here, for example, you can see that anorexia is presented as a lifestyle and not as a disease. But not only that. Also can be found tainted public-health messages, such as the anti-vaccine movement. The social media also has been related with cyberbullying. So you can see– yeah.
And the misinformation that can be found on the social media can spread very quickly. Here you can find a publication that was published on a British medical journal on how the wrong information that can be found on the social media. In this case it was about the cures for Ebola– wrong information on cures for Ebola. It was spread through the social media very quickly. And it was responsible of the death of two people in Nigeria. This publication focusing on the public health organisation should correct that misinformation that it spreads on social media. Here, however, there is the answer. It was published in the Lancet, and it talks about the limitations for correcting damaged information.
However, the social media has become one of the first source of information about health. So far, people use it to know more about their disease or their symptoms or the diseases or symptoms of family– people from the family, friends. It also has been used to share experience, to exchange information, and to get emotional support. And social media are accessible to an increasing number of people. As we have seen before, it’s over 2 billion of users worldwide. And this means that it is a powerful dissemination tool to inform users about evidence-based materials on health. And, of course, it’s a valued environment for their potential to engage with the general public. On the public-health use, so far it’s not that popular.
But we can find some tobacco-reduction or -cessation campaigns. There is the weapons. Those public-health organisations also starting to use it to educate or to disseminate the information about health. And less use but increasingly is correcting misinformation.