Five Ways Social Media Can Affect Your Health

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Science is now showing us how our interactions across social media can affect our personal health habits and decisions in both good ways and bad. See how your community may be influencing you.

It affects how we make important health decisions

A study published in Pediatrics suggests parents are influenced by social media when deciding about child vaccinations. Researchers surveyed 196 parents in a low-vaccination area. Parents who did not comply with the CDC's vaccination had a greater number of people in their social networks who suggested they don't comply.

It can support the healthiness of older people

The use of social media by older people can offer valuable additional support in cases of sickness and diseases, new research from the University of Luxembourg has shown. With the successful use of a computer or web-enabled device, older adults report enhanced feelings of control and self-efficiency.

It can improve overall public health

Think about it: if you constantly see updates on Facebook about eating healthy and exercising, you're bound to start thinking about your own habits. The more we know about how healthful habits and positive attitudes spread on social media, the more it will help experts use natural social networks to improve public health. However, the influence of social networks can also work in the other direction (as seen in the next slide).

It can influence weight gain

In another study of people taking part in the Framingham Heart Study, researchersfound that if study participants had a friend who became obese, the chance the study participant would become obese rose by 57 percent.