How are we using social media?

Roxanne Cohen Silver, PhD:

Research does make it clear that social media is a larger source of misinformation and rumour than we typically get from traditional media. There isn’t anybody who is monitoring and vetting the information for its truthfulness or its veracity. So we need to step back. How are we using social media? Is it for connection, or is it for information gathering?

Purplexed Science: During the early stages of the pandemic, I admittedly relied heavily on Twitter updates. Not necessarily other people’s tweets, but the curated headlines and conversations Twitter itself would group together. The public’s willingness to be informed is directly linked to how the media has chosen to inform.

I found myself deleting several news notifications I’d set up because it was nothing but COVID-19, and I think that can do two things.

Dilute the information, or expose people to more misinformation. Human beings tend to rationalise what they cannot understand and this pandemic has been no different.

People are using social media for connection, but that also comes with information gathering. People feel a need to share what they’ve learnt with others. Often without stopping to fact check, after all, it’s easier to click a button than it is to input a search term into Google and spend half an hour reading up on a topic you may not necessarily understand.

One solution may be integrating a fact checking service within all social media platforms, or a service that allows people to quickly input information and returns them with a concise and clear explanation. Implementing such a service would be costly and time-consuming, so the buck stops with social media and news outlets. They should be held accountable for what is posted and do their due diligence before misinformation is allowed to spread.

the effect of COVID-19 on mental health

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I wish it would just go away. 

That is a common sentiment everyone’s heard at least once this year thanks to the coronavirus, COVID-19, the global pandemic that’s taken the world by storm since early February. COVID-19 has left a huge and unprecedented impact on modern society.

An article in Brain, Behavior and Immunity states COVID-19 ‘threatens our basic need for connection’ which could have severe impacts on mental health. This is shown by a study carried out in Spain during the lockdown on 3480 people. Of the people who took part, 18% were depressive, 21.6% suffered from anxiety and 15.8% were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Additionally, many people have lost loved ones or been devastated in other ways.

This is an unsettling and unpredictable time. Life as we know it has changed and shows no signs of going back to normal soon. Continue reading “the effect of COVID-19 on mental health”

On This Day – 12th July

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On 12th July 1957, the US government became the first government to publicly link smoking to lung cancer. The Surgeon General, Dr. Leroy Burney, who was an epidemiologist (someone who looks at patterns and causes of various health and disease conditions), issued a report which stated:

It is clear that there is an increasing and consistent body of evidence that excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.’

This was an important statement because of how widespread smoking was at that time, and how much power lobbyists in the tobacco industry held. Unsurprisingly, The Tobacco Industry Research Committee rejected the study and complained about the methodology used. Continue reading “On This Day – 12th July”

Can you really boost your immune system?

 

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Can you really boost your immune system?

Boosting the immune system is something that is popular no matter where you are.

In times when people are working longer hours than usual, it’s easy to look for quick ways to stop us from getting sick. A simple Google search will turn up a host of articles and guides on how we can boost our immune systems using supplements, diet improvements and exercise. Continue reading “Can you really boost your immune system?”

Writing your way through your new normal

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Journaling or keeping a diary (and more recently, blogging) has always been a useful tool in our daily lives. Journaling helps maintain control of our moods, thoughts and feelings by allowing us to focus on our concerns, problems and fears while providing us with a creative outlet. 

It has been shown to improve mental health, with the University of Rochester Medical Center stating that journaling can help people with:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Stress

Currently, the Coronavirus 2019 Pandemic is causing a lot of change around the world and with constant updates every ten minutes, it’s normal for people to feel a bit anxious and stressed out. With a large number of people in the world stuck at home, it’s easy to feel bored and shut off from the rest of the world. This is where journaling comes in. By keeping a regular journal, you will be able to process your thoughts and emotions with regards to the virus, as well as focus on other areas of your life such as gratitude and self-discovery. Continue reading “Writing your way through your new normal”

Why wearing a mask might not prevent the spread of coronavirus

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What is a coronavirus?

Coronavirus is the scientific name for a group of viruses that cause things like common colds and more serious illnesses like SARS (severe acute respiratory symptom). They can be transmitted from humans to other humans or from animals to humans.


Why is it in the news today?

The coronavirus we’ve been hearing about is a new strain of the virus that nobody had come across before it struck patients in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China last year. It has now been named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019), and is classified as a respiratory illness caused by virus strain SARS-COV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and as of yet, there is no vaccine.

It is currently a serious issue because of the rate at which it is spreading and the fact that it can be fatal.

As of writing there has been 1,923,651 reported cases and over 119,595 deaths globally (you can keep up to date with the current figures here).


How is it transmited?

During the initial stages of the outbreak, it was thought that there was animal-to-person spread originating in a seafood and live animal market. However, a lot of patients didn’t have any contact or exposure with animal markets suggesting that there is in fact person-to-person spread.

This has been the case in countries all across the world where it appears to be spreading easily due to a lack of social distancing, limited testing and poor hygiene practices when the first few cases began to appear. This led to a high level of person to person spread first in Italy, which became the new epicentre of the virus, and then the rest of Europe before the number of cases grew in the United States.

Person to person spread comes about when people come within six feet of an infected patient. It is thought that people are most contagious when they’re sick. The virus is spread through droplets produced by sneezing and coughing.

Although, currently the World Health Organisation doesn’t believe that COVID-19 is airborne, a research article in Environmental International states:

National authorities [should] acknowledge the reality that the virus spreads through air, and recommend that adequate control measures be implemented to prevent further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Will wearing a mask prevent transmission?

Much has been made of members of the public wearing face masks with the WHO reluctant to state that it’s a foolproof method of preventing transmission. While local authorities are suggesting that people wear cloth face masks while out and about, there is not yet enough evidence to say that they will stop people from catching COVID-19. 

The question has remained: are masks effective when it comes to preventing droplets from spreading?

In short, no.

That’s the worrying answer a group of researchers in South Korea arrived at when they put surgical masks and cotton masks to the test. Continue reading “Why wearing a mask might not prevent the spread of coronavirus”

Should people be worried about Coronavirus?

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What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is the scientific name for a group of viruses that cause things like common colds and more serious illnesses like SARS (severe acute respiratory symptom). They can be transmitted from humans to other humans or from animals to humans.


Why is it in the news today?

The coronavirus we’ve been hearing about is a new strain of the virus that nobody had come across before it struck patients in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China last year. It has now been named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) and as of yet, there is no vaccine. It is a serious issue now because of the rate at which it is spreading and the fact that it can be fatal.

As of writing there has been 79,000 reported cases and over 2400 deaths (you can keep up to date with the current figures here.

According to one of the first reports on Coronavirus by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention the majority of reported COVID-19 cases are mild. However, the disease has the potential to be severe, or in worse cases – critical. Continue reading “Should people be worried about Coronavirus?”

the impact of social media on young people

These days, anyone with a mobile phone can access almost anything on the internet. Particularly social media, which has fast become an effective tool for business and advertising. Everywhere we go, social media follows.

For the current generations who have been born into this era, social media is all they know. It’s easy to find scores of articles purely based on social media exchanges. This highlights how much social media determines the conversation of today.

Continue reading “the impact of social media on young people”

Will Brexit affect the UK’s drug supply?

The short answer is: probably.

The long answer is that at this moment, different outcomes are possible and it’s difficult to predict which one will come to pass.

Much has been made of the UK’s decision to exit the European Union, but what’s clear is that there’s no concrete plan on how it’s going to go. The pharmaceutical industry is particularly vulnerable given that almost half of the UK’s population take prescription drugs.

Continue reading “Will Brexit affect the UK’s drug supply?”