Social media plays a huge role in our everyday lives. It seems like there is an app for everything these days. However, as with anything, there are pros and cons. It’s important to find a “happy medium” while using social media outlets.
- Networking: Social media is a great place to network and connect with other students or physicians. LinkedIn is great for this because you can find physicians within your future specialty, and connect with them on a professional platform. My school also had a Facebook group for incoming students before I started the semester, so I was able to meet a lot of my classmates virtually before arriving at school.
- Keeping in touch with family/friends: One thing that helps me get past the fact that I live abroad is that I am able to communicate with my family/friends back home. Technology and social media are amazing ways to stay connected and keep up with everything going on back home. I’m able to send a message instantly to my family, as well as video chat with my best friend.
- Great outlet for news: I do not have time to watch the news on a daily basis. However, it’s nice to follow lots of news outlets on Facebook/Twitter and receive news that way. I love how everything is on one feed (family/friend updates, news articles, entertainment videos, etc). I am able to keep up with trending topics from reliable sources.
- A source of distraction: Social media used to be a HUGE distraction for me. I had to delete the social media apps on my phone, and learn to focus and eliminate the distractions while studying. It’s hard to find a balance, but it’s important to not let social media consume our lives. There are management apps that you can use to help eliminate distractions. I also shut off all my notifications, so I have to manually check everything to see if I have something new.
- Spread of false information: We all know that social media is notorious for the spread of false/incorrect information. Many people assume because it’s posted on the Internet, it must be true. Make sure you follow legitimate sites and do research on something you read from the Internet. Not everything we read is true/accurate.
- Cyber-bullying and hacking are made easy: Social media outlets have made it easy for people to hide behind their computers and engage in bullying and hateful comments. Unfortunately, many people have resorted to social media for affirmation of their looks/qualities, which can lead to negativity from cyber-bullying and can damage self-esteem. This “safety” behind screens can also lead to hacking and creating fake profiles of people due to anonymity. Personal information is made public on our profiles, which makes it easily accessible to anyone. My rule of thumb is that if I don’t know a person in real life, I will never accept them onto my networks, no matter how many ‘friends’ we may have in common.