Social Media – A Tool To Empower Or Hinder Diabetes Management?
A friendly link to others in the same situation and a source of valuable advice, or just false information along with reminders of how you “should” eat, making you just want to shout out “It’s not that simple!”
We are surrounded by an infinite amount of content and sifting through this abyss of information can become confusing. How can we find out what is true or false? Social media is a double edge sword – it has many benefits but also comes with risks. However, if used in the right way and read with a bit of source criticism, you can get great tips and even make friends.
Stay open yet critical
When it comes to finding information to support you on your diabetes journey, where you find that information is key. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, are filled with data, from advice and opinions to stories and trending topics on diabetes management. But how do you pick the right information? The next time you are active on these channels, keep three things in mind:
- Remember anyone can post anything on these forums. Follow sites, forums and communities that are trustworthy, well known and are routinely monitored by admins to be sure you get reliable information.
- As always on the internet, keep your most personal information to yourself.
- No matter how legitimate the information seems to be, it should never replace recommendations by your diabetes healthcare team.
That said, there are many gold mines out there which can help you feel better and less alone.
Network and combat loneliness
While scrolling through social media posts can give you the information that you are looking for, it may not tackle the feeling of being lonely. Find online groups that share your values, are open-minded and have honest discussions. To reap the benefits of social media and combat loneliness, try to be as active as you can by sharing your thoughts, inviting discussions and building a network for yourself.
Create support groups
Apart from advice on diabetes management and social aspects, many use social media for other interest’s support. For example, group exercise programmes and online peer support can bring not only motivation and inspiration, but also valuable tips on how to deal with issues you may be experiencing with blood glucose levels during workouts and similar activities.
Do your own research
Every day, a wealth of information is posted across social media channels. Although the majority of the information is visually appealing and easy to understand, it may not always be true. Be sure to do your own research by cross-checking facts and resources. Don’t take things too seriously until you further investigation or before you have checked with your diabetes healthcare team.
Not picture perfect
The “perfect” photos shared on social media are a form of skewed bias and should be looked at with caution. These picturesque images can cause feelings of not being good enough (nothing could be more wrong, you’re more than enough) or suggesting that something key is missing in your life. It is important to remember that many of these photos are capturing the best moments of the user’s life, which they are sharing with others. Another thing to keep in mind is that some of these shared images have been enhanced using filters or photo editing software and so are not true to the reality we live in.
Be kind and share your thoughts
Be wary of negative comments to keep a positive culture. You may come across trolling, but it is best not to delve too deep into what is being said. Instead, focus on information that would be most useful to you. Equally, when you are posting or sharing your thoughts, always use the right words and tone of voice to avoid unnecessary hurt towards others. The best approach is to imagine talking to a physical person – are the words you are using clear and kind or would they cause offense?
If used the right way, social media can help you connect with others, build new friends and provide amazing information to help you manage your diabetes. It opens up new possibilities, making you feel less alone, creating empowerment and provide valuable support on your diabetes journey.
1. Malik FS, Panlasigui N, Gritton J, Gill H, Yi-Frazier JP, Moreno MA. Adolescent Perspectives on the Use of Social Media to Support Type 1 Diabetes Management: Focus Group Study. J Med Internet Res. 2019;21(6):12149.
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While we are here– have you had the chance to visit our Facebook page , Instagram account and YouTube Channel ? Come and join our amazing online community, who discuss everything from food and exercise to diabetes technology and blood sugar levels. All posts are supported by studies, research and are monitored by admins to ensure the information you view is accurate. We can’t wait to see you there!