Have you seen it all on the media? I am sure that all of us are aware of what is going on in the world at the moment. This can be due to media coverage all around us; TV, radio, websites, social media, we are being constantly bombarded with the latest information about COVID-19. This however does not necessarily mean that whatever we read is true, especially if it is not coming from reliable sources. But, this blog aims to reflect and compare a bit to our reaction to all of this that is happening around us and the effect of social media.
Humans have encountered mass illnesses in the past decades and centuries but different times, we took on different approaches and reactions. Let’s take the SARS-coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) as an example. This of course is not saying that SARS-coronavirus and COVID-19 are the same nor any comparison between the two apart from the fact that both of them are pandemics. Both illnesses cause a ripple effect of issues, however, I believe that with COVID-19 there is one thing which for sure is different.
In 2002, when SARS-coronavirus, Facebook did not exist, nor did Twitter or Instagram, none of this. However, with COVID-19 in 2020, it’s a different story. This brings me to the main point of this blog, which reflects on the impact social media has on us; the knowledge about the condition and health education. This obviously has positive and negative effects. Moving directly to the positive aspect of this, we can access so many useful and helpful resources through social media. Accessing the right resources however is important for our health education. Health education is necessary as it can help the individual adapt and cope with the situation that is going around. Health education with regards to COVID-19 is mostly related to hand washing and other precautions. Health psychology can help with health education, especially with behaviour change in order to wash our hands more often.
Some online suggestions include reminding ourselves to wash our hands more often. Having reminders, that can go off every 15 minutes to remind ourselves to wash our hands. If this is not practical, another behaviour change technique can be to decide for yourself a time when you can wash your hands for example “I will wash my hands every time before I ________”. You can create a list of times that you can wash your hands, and when such behaviour happens, you remind yourself to wash your hands. Therefore, if we seek the right amount of information online, it might actually be useful for us in order to keep up with the latest health education about COVID-19. Reliable sources can include the WHO website and governmental health departments websites (some of useful resources have been listed below).
So, let’s all look at reliable sources that can help target our health education and read that. A useful way to make sure that the information is reliable is to see the original source the article is referencing, whether its a scientific paper or just a rant, it is important to ensure you are reading from a credible source. Unfortunately, unreliable sources may cause unnecessary anxiety and spread of misinformation. So, when reading, ask yourself; where is this information coming from? Who wrote the article? Such questions can help us to navigate through articles seen on social media wisely with the main aim of improving our health education.
In summary, social media can be a trap for misinformation and anxiety and we need to check sources when reading. Educating ourselves about the health condition is important. In addition, this is a reminder to wash your hands well and take the necessary precautions.
Danica Cassar has graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at the University of Malta and is currently reading for a Masters of Science in Health Psychology at the University of Bath.