Many Chronically Ill Teens View Social Media as Invasive

Sep 24, 2012 14:36:08Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Many Chronically Ill Teens View Social Media as Invasive

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to stay connected with friends and family, but this increased level of connectivity to loved ones can be too much for some. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association that was conducted by at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Canada found that chronically ill teens are likely to use services such as Facebook, Twitter and text messaging while they are in the hospital, but are selective when it comes to the information they choose to share.

The study, which was published on, looked at the communication behaviors of 20 patients between 12 and 18 years of age. Roughly half told the study investigators they are online during the majority of their free time, but most chose not to share information about their personal health.

"I just think that if people want to know [about my health], they should ask me," said one 17-year-old girl in the study. "They should not just read it [on Facebook]."

Researchers questioned the participants about their internet privacy settings and found that most took it seriously. Each teen registered their real names and birthdays on Facebook, but 18 of the participants have restricted those who could view their profiles to friends only. The other two allow friends of friends to see their status updates. Many of the teens in this study indicated they felt social media sites such as Facebook gave them the opportunity to be "regular" and pay less attention to their illness.

In addition to standard social media sites, there are also online venues for chronically ill individuals to express their feelings concerning their health. Many forums and other online meeting places exist where people can get together to discuss their issues and speak with others who are in similar situations, according to The New York Times. Sherri Connell, who suffers from Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis, and her husband started a social networking site for those who are dealing with illness, disabilities or injuries to express themselves. The site allows users to sign up anonymously, creating a safe environment that allows them to be open without having to worry about internet security.