Trust, social media and health: Young people's uses of social media during COVID-19 and beyond

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Birmingham

“Leading regulatory bodies across the world have argued that young people should be better supported to engage with social media safely, responsibly, and effectively.”

Hide

Social media is integral to young people’s lives, and is thus significant in relation to their education and health. In the latest Vice-Chancellor’s Great Debate, these opportunities for young people were identified, alongside acknowledging some of the risks associated with social media use, such as the challenges associated with fake news. Contradictions were identified by the panel in relation to social media as a context for peace vs instability, a force for good vs a context of harm, and/or a space of democracy vs power. Reflecting the discussions in the Great Debate it is perhaps not surprising then that many adults who have a responsibility for young people (including parents, teachers, policy makers and health professionals) are confused and uncertain about social media, and its impact on young people’s education and health.

Leading regulatory bodies across the world have argued that young people should be better supported to engage with social media safely, responsibly, and effectively. Examples include the UK Chief Medical Officers, the Children’s Commissioner in the UK, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Science and Technology Committee. Much of the debate has centred on social media sites and the need for better regulation and monitoring of content and use.

The urgent need for young people to be better supported in their engagement with social media is even more significant now during COVID-19. Our research in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences demonstrates that since the social distancing measures came into effect, young people are spending more hours per day on social media, and that there has been an influx of health information shared via social media that is not moderated, and users are required to make judgements on content that is high quality and evidence-based vs content that Is visually appealing and is sometimes factually incorrect. At the same time, social media provides opportunities to connect young people with friends and family members, and address key social development issues. In this context, the default position to ban and block social media use is likely to be unhelpful to young people and their development. Instead, the key challenge facing many relevant adults is knowing how to support young people in ways that simultaneously maximise opportunities and minimise the potential risks of social media.

At a time when movement outside of the home is restricted, social media provides a great opportunity to reach many people, particularly those who are concerned that they are at increased risk due to an underlying health condition. Hence in our current work in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences we are exploring how social media is being used in relation to health during COVID-19 for young people and also other population groups who are shielding/vulnerable and/or active or inactive. Overall that work is illustrating that social media is a significant resource for socialising and learning, but for wider physical and mental wellbeing. Furthermore, and building on our earlier research, the important point to make is that social media is a very dynamic environment where young people’s physical, social and emotional needs can change rapidly—particularly through adolescence—and negative impacts can escalate quickly as a result of the power of the medium and its content. For adults who wish to offer support and guidance to young people is to know when young people are in control of social media, and when it shifts into controlling them. Therefore, a key and essential step we suggest is to focus on adult digital literacy:

Digital literacy support for adults should aim to help adults to critically evaluate the relevance of health-related information for their own and young people’s lives, as well as developing the digital skills to navigate social media sites so they can understand and offer appropriate support to young people.

We are interested in your views on the relationship between social media and health. If you are interested in supporting knowledge of this topic please complete the following survey, called Optimising Social Media for Physical Activity & Nutrition during COVID-19 that takes around 10 minutes to complete and is available online until the end of June.

Have your say...

Feedback
  • Klais Surik
    External
    1. At 9:52PM on 01 August 2021, Klais Surik wrote

    We should also definitely think about what we eat. There is a lot of contradictory data about different products, especially there is a lot of speculation about GMO, because this is a real live topic and there is hardly any controversy or shouting. But to better understand it we need to read this https://studydriver.com/gmo/ and know more about the pros and cons of GMO, and then make conclusions from experts to make it worth it or not. I hope I helped.

  • file explorer windows 10
    External
    2. At 8:07PM on 15 September 2021, wrote

    Really thanks for share it wonderfully article online.

  • Emma
    External
    3. At 9:11AM on 10 October 2021, Emma wrote

    SMM marketing https://mediaonemarketing.com.sg/singapore-social-media-marketing-agency/ is an independent direction in the marketing complex of the company, which requires serious knowledge, skills and costs. But with due attention, social networks will become a source of committed customers, positive emotions and solid income for everyone who puts them at their service.

  • Shirley J. Walker
    External
    4. At 6:07AM on 12 November 2021, Shirley J. Walker wrote

    Health risk messages are increasingly communicated through social media, with digital public health interventions often encouraging users to share messages or advertise them with hashtags and also they can visit https://www.resumesplanet.com/ site in order to get quality work. The use of social media by young people presents the opportunity for messages about healthy behaviors to reach large audiences with relative ease, but it also raises concerns about exposure to dangerous behaviors.

  • Gaven Rank
    External
    5. At 6:25PM on 29 November 2021, Gaven Rank wrote

    In fact, now many social networks have tightened their internal rules and I often get banned simply because my position is marginal enough for most. So if you have something like this it's worth it to be addressed here https://social-me.co.uk/ and they will help you get your account unblocked. I was very sorry to lose the page where I have so many dialogues, friends and so on. Luckily they were able to help me out and everything is fine now!

  •  lash tinting san diego
    External
    6. At 8:16AM on 02 December 2021, wrote

    Social media helps somehow

  • full spectrum cbg oil
    External
    7. At 8:52AM on 19 December 2021, wrote

    There is a wide curiosity among people, how smoking impacts the health insurance and its cost.full spectrum cbg oil https://eghogenics.com/ Let's educate yourself about smoking and its impact on health insurance policy.

  • livehealth online review
    External
    8. At 1:09PM on 22 December 2021, wrote

    Making these protien shakes and continuing with such heavy intense diets is not an easy task, so I am thankful to the livehealth online review https://therapy-reviews.com/reviews/livehealth-online/ people for recommending me to check out this post today.

  • https://healthmkb.com/korean-massage/
    External
    9. At 12:53PM on 30 December 2021, wrote

    it would be good for individuals to use social media to remain up to date about this kind of service nearby them. For that they can log on to https://healthmkb.com/korean-massage/ where there is everything well explained. This will encourage to get involved in this project

Add Your Feedback