The Impact of Social Media on Women’s Health
Social media is a great way to stay connected with the people you love. It can also keep you up to date on news, the latest trends, and what’s happening in entertainment. Unfortunately, some of those trends can do more harm than good – especially if you’re a woman.
Social media is designed to be influential. In some ways, that can be a good thing, but only if the information you’re receiving is accurate and non-biased. Far too often, people post about health issues online and it’s hard to know what’s real or what you should be concerned about. An estimated 93 million Americans seek out health information online.
Unfortunately, health misinformation is still rampant on many social media platforms - a 2022 study on TikTok discovered that 20% of all information on the platform is incorrect. That can be extremely problematic when it comes to women trying to deal with specific issues, or girls trying to find relevant and real information about their health for the first time.
It’s important to find a balanced approach when it comes to getting your health information, so you can make informed decisions about everything from your menstrual health to your overall well-being.
Let’s take a closer look at the impact of social media on women’s health, and how you can strike that balance while prioritizing your personal care.
Finding a Balanced Approach
Scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok for ten minutes and you’ll be inundated with information. If you’ve found yourself on pages and accounts that frequently discuss health issues, you might think that everything they’re saying is true. There’s no question that video platforms, especially TikTok, have shaped the conversation around women’s health issues recently – especially menstruation issues.
With TikTok, especially, people can post real, raw videos about their own experiences with women’s health. There are also experts on the platform that can give actionable advice to women dealing with specific issues or women who simply want to improve their well-being.
But, don’t believe everything you hear on #healthtok or any social media platform. There are plenty of accounts out there that are simply trying to reach “influencer” status. Some of them are legitimate and have grown in popularity thanks to their real-world advice. There are even real OBGYNs and female practitioners on the platform that you should follow.
Be aware, however, that some people are using marketing techniques just to gain followers, rather than providing helpful information. Striking a balance between getting health information on social media and in the real world is essential. Even if the information you’re getting on these platforms is legitimate, it’s best to balance it out with actual medical articles or journals, or advice from your own doctor – we’ll touch more on that later.
Self-Diagnosis in the Digital Age
Because of the influx of information available on social media, far too many women attempt to diagnose themselves. We’ve gotten used to phrases like “Dr. Google,” and we tend to believe what certain influencers say, so we feel qualified to determine whether we’re dealing with a specific condition or not.
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For some women, this can be a source of comfort. It’s not uncommon to have a fear of seeing the doctor, especially if you’ve had negative experiences in the past. Doctor anxiety typically includes symptoms like:
- A rapid heart rate;
- Rapid breathing;
- Tightness in your chest.
Sound familiar? You might be afraid of going through a negative experience, or you might be worried about the stigma sometimes associated with menstruation, especially if you typically see a male doctor.
Whatever the case, self-diagnosing can be dangerous. It can cause you to jump to conclusions about your symptoms, and you might end up being completely wrong about what you’re actually dealing with. That can make your health issues worse when they could have been helped or prevented early on.
How to Protect Your Health
Protecting your health in this digital age is a two-fold process. First, practice preventative care. Take care of your overall well-being by exercising regularly. Physical fitness is a form of self-empowerment. It helps your body to work properly and can even improve your mental well-being.
Additionally, strive to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, find ways to de-stress, and spend more time outdoors. Self-care isn’t selfish or frivolous. It’s necessary for your physical and mental health.
You should also be mindful of how much time you are spending on social media. While there are myths about how much screen time is appropriate and not all screen time is bad, excessive use can lead to vision problems. In addition, many people find that setting screen time limits can be beneficial for their physical and mental health.
You should also make sure you’re regularly seeing a doctor for both preventative care and any health issues you might be concerned about. It’s important to be your own advocate when you’re working with a medical professional, and if you feel like your concerns are being dismissed, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.
You don’t have to completely disregard the health information you see on social media platforms. Some of it is very real, relevant, and timely. You might even come across a health influencer that inspires you to take better care of yourself or to see a medical professional in person. But, make sure you’re taking that information with a grain of salt. Do your own research, try to avoid self-diagnosis yourself, and stand strong when it comes to protecting your health and seeing a medical provider in person.
When you do these things, you might even have the opportunity to open up someone else’s eyes about taking care of their health. You can share your stories on social media for others to see and hear. You don’t have to be an expert to join the conversation. You just have to be part of the community of women who want to take better care of their health and well-being. Finding your place in that digital community can be comforting, supportive, and encouraging.
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Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.