Social Networking and Health

Social Networking and Health

Kevin Curran (Department of Computing and Engineering, School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, University of Ulster at Magee, Londonderry, UK) and Michael Mc Hugh (School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, University of Ulster at Magee, Londonderry, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/jide.2013040104


The rise of social networking has revolutionised how people communicate on a daily basis. In a world where more people are connecting to the internet, social networking services create an immediate communication link between users. Social networking sites provide multiple services which include emailing, instant messaging, uploading files, gaming and finding friends. Just as social networking has become a more popular method of communication in recent years, the ways in which people look after our health has also changed. People do not just rely singly on medical expert’s views anymore. They actively search for information on their own accord through the internet. Social Networking gives users both the option to gather, provide and comment on information. This research paper looks into if and how social networking can be successfully used within the health arena.
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1. Introduction

Social Networking is the use of dedicated websites and applications to communicate with other users, or to find people with similar interests to one’s own (Hawkin, 2009). Social Networking is an increasing popular method of communication and has brought about a fundamental change in how people interact in today’s society. With advances in internet services i.e. broadband, more and more people are able to access the internet than ever before. With portable devices such as smart phones becoming more technically advanced, users are no longer confined to using social networking sites on a computer. People can therefore access their social networking site anytime, anywhere and this has aided the growth of social networking in recent years. This research paper will look at three social networking websites and how they could be used within the health arena. The websites that will be reviewed are Facebook, Twitter and MedHelp. MedHelp unlike the other two Social Networking Services is a dedicated social network for health related issues.

Healthcare is maintaining and or improving the physical and mental condition of a patient through the provision of medical services. In the last decade with advances made in medicine and healthcare, people are expected to live longer and lead more active lives. People are becoming more knowledgeable in how to have a better quality of life, for example what foods they should consume and how much exercise they need to undertake on a daily basis. How we get this information to help us live longer has changed. As a society in the twenty first century we are forever searching for new information. Information has become more readily available and through social networking websites user’s views are always in close proximately to new information. When it comes to information regarding health, people are no different. We gather information on staying fit and healthy, on what to do when our health deteriorates and during recovery after illness. The sources of this information includes healthcare professionals, family members and in recent years the internet, including social networking sites. With the current recession in the UK and across the world, the health arena has been forced to cut down spending in order to save money. This research paper will look to see if social networking can help resolve the issues this sector faces and the effects if a solution cannot be found. We examine how social networking techniques can be implemented in the Health arena. We will look at the latest attempts to integrate social networking into healthcare. The positives aspects of these attempts and equally the negative impacts will be scrutinised. This in-depth analysis will look at social networking from users within the health arena both medical staff and patients. Ultimately it is these users who can determine whether or not the health arena can use social networking to their and the organisations advantage.

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