Social media and networks in health and social care
Social media and networks in health and social care

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1.2 Health and care on the internet

In the previous activity you will have identified a range of advantages and disadvantages of the internet for health and care. The motivation or reason for someone using the internet can play a role in whether it is seen as an advantage or disadvantage. Some of the most common uses of the internet for health and care include: seeking information about signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment; connecting with other patients or carers; linking with health and care providers; information about diet and nutrition. Many people use the internet as a primary source of information, over and above more traditional ‘printed’ information, talking to friends, family, colleagues and even health and care professionals (Jacobs et al., 2017).

The next activity gets you to think about how you might have used the internet for health and care.

Activity 3 Using the internet for health information

Think about how you might use or have used the internet for the purpose of health and care. In the box below, type in three things that describe how you have used the internet for these purposes.

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Jaks et al. (2019) and Moreland et al. (2015) suggest some reasons why people use the internet for health and care information:

  • finding information to take to an appointment or consultation to discuss with the professional
  • finding information about signs and symptoms to make decisions about seeking face-to-face support and the type of support. For example, whether to take a child with a fever to the GP or urgent care
  • seeking information about a service provider
  • getting responses to queries and questions quickly, 24 hours a day, particularly through social networks
  • seeking emotional support and information from others with the same diagnosis/condition/situation
  • to improve knowledge of a diagnosed condition and how to manage it
  • finding information to improve health and wellbeing generally e.g. diet advice, weight loss.

As you have seen, there are plenty of benefits and reasons to use the internet for health and care purposes. However, the internet also brings with it a wide range of disadvantages and risks.

The next section will explore potential disadvantages and risks of the internet relevant to a particular group of vulnerable children and young people.

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