Our Health Literacy Month newsletter series is focused on helping individuals find and understand information regarding their health. The series will consist of four articles, which will be released once a week throughout the month of October. Each article will cover different aspects of health literacy, offering helpful tips and information to encourage readers to protect their health and better manage health problems when they arise.
Identifying Silver Linings with Social Media and Health Literacy
October 16, 2023
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that we can use technology for a lot more than we realized. While it’s not ideal to avoid face-to-face interaction with people most of the time, the availability of technology, particularly when it pertains to social media, can be hugely impactful on health literacy.
More and more people are leaning on social media to seek out and share health information. With this, social media allows individuals greater access to various tools, education, resources, and valuable connections. Social media is often utilized as a platform to inform and empower individuals in their health journey which can lead to healthier lifestyles, such as TLC’s YouTube LiveStream every Tuesday evening at 6 pm PST where TLC’s Dr. Rita Ellithorpe answers questions from the public.
While social media has its pitfalls, it can provide some silver linings when it comes to understanding healthcare and how it pertains to individuals and their specific health needs. Both social media and health literacy are constantly changing with the environment and its use may be pivotal in helping people be more aware of their healthcare needs and options.
For example, social media can help to share information through various multimedia channels instead of plain text. This can help individuals with low literacy to better understand health information and have it broken down in front of them.
Social media can also be used as a platform for promoting health literacy and health advocacy, providing resources and connections with individuals or entities that can help provide additional support that wouldn’t otherwise be readily available or easily accessible.
Additionally, health information and tools that were previously only available to healthcare providers are now available to information seekers through social media. Not to mention that many who use social media share their personal experiences and knowledge on various health-related subjects which can help to empower and foster healthy behaviors .
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Therefore, social media has provided an extended level of access to health information and resources to a wide range of individuals who didn’t have it before. Even if these individuals are not well-versed in technology, they can easily locate information through various channels of media.
Many large organizations and entities are participating in social media platforms and use these to provide easier access to doctors, prescriptions, health information, and more. This can help to give access to healthcare professionals for those who live in rural areas or who struggle with transportation.
As social media continues to grow and evolve, its effects on health literacy will follow. As it stands, social media has helped to bridge the gap between health information and health literacy in large population groups and will likely continue to expand and improve as time goes by.
So, if you aren’t already (which you likely are), get comfortable using social media and let it work for you where you need it.
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