Social Media Use & Body Image Concerns

Social Media Use Increasing Body Image Concerns

You might be checking on what your friends are up to. You might be looking for a way to connect and communicate. Or you might just be looking for some entertainment.

Despite the reasons we engage in social media, researchers at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine say our social media use is predisposing us to body image concerns and the risk of developing an eating disorder (Sidani et al., 2016).

“We’ve long known that exposure to traditional forms of media, such as fashion magazines and television, is associated with the development of disordered eating and body image concerns, likely due to the positive portrayal of ‘thin’ models and celebrities,“ explains Jaime E. Sidani, PhD, MPH, assistant director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. “Social media combines many of the visual aspects of traditional media with the opportunity for social media users to interact and propagate stereotypes that can lead to eating and body image concerns” (Sidani, 2016).

Sampling 1,765 U.S. adults age 19 through 32 in 2014, Dr. Sidani and her colleagues used questionnaires to determine use of 11 of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

Then they cross-referenced those results with the results of another questionnaire that used established screening tools to assess eating disorder risk, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and other clinical and mental health issues where people have a distorted body image and disordered eating.

Their findings should have us all putting our phones down. The participants who spent the most time on social media throughout the day had 2.2 times the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns, compared to their peers who spent less time on social media. And participants who reported most frequently checking social media throughout the week had 2.6 times the risk, compared with those who checked least frequently (Sidani et al., 2016).

While previous research has shown that people tend to post images online that present themselves in a more positive – rather than realistic – light, thereby exposing others to unrealistic expectations for their appearance, it is also possible, notes Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, assistant vice chancellor for health and society in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences, that people who have eating and body image concerns might then be turning to social media to connect with groups of people who also have these concerns” (Primack, 2016).

The concern, however, is that despite Instagram banning the hashtags ‘thinspiration’ and ‘thinspo,’ YouTube videos about anorexia nervosa that could be classified as “pro-anorexia” received higher viewer ratings than informative videos highlighting the health consequences of the eating disorder.

For Sidani, the answer is more research. Not just do we need to develop effective interventions to counter social media content that either intentionally or unintentionally increases the risk of eating disorders in users, she notes, we need to follow users over time to answer the cause-and-effect questions surrounding social media use and risk for eating and body image concerns.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Ethics and Social MediaEthics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication?

The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2016 | 32 pages | 15 posttest questions

Nutrition and Mental HealthNutrition and Mental Health: Advanced Clinical Concepts is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that examines how what we eat influences how we feel, both physically and mentally. While the role of adequate nutrition in maintaining mental health has been established for some time, just how clinicians go about providing the right nutritional information to the patient at the right time – to not just ensure good mental health, but actually optimize mood – has not been so clear. With myriad diets, weight loss supplements and programs, clients often find themselves reaching for the next best nutritional solution, all the while, unsure how they will feel, or even what to eat to feel better. On the other side of the equation, clinicians so often face not just a client’s emotional, situational, and relational concerns, but concerns that are clearly mired in how the client feels physically, and what impact his/her nutritional health may have on these concerns. For example, research into the role of blood sugar levels has demonstrated a clear crossover with client impulse control. Additionally, the gut microbiome, and its role in serotonin production and regulation has consistently made clear that without good gut health, mitigating anxiety and depression becomes close to impossible.

So if good mental health begins with good nutritional health, where should clinicians start? What advice should they give to a depressed client? An anxious client? A client with impulse control problems? This course will answer these questions and more. Comprised of three sections, the course will begin with an overview of macronutrient intake and mental health, examining recent popular movements such as intermittent fasting, carb cycling and ketogenic diets, and their impact on mental health. In section two, we will look specifically at the role of blood sugar on mental health, and research that implicates blood sugar as both an emotional and behavioral regulator. Gut health, and specifically the gut microbiome, and its influence on mood and behavior will then be explored. Lastly, specific diagnoses and the way they are impacted by specific vitamins and minerals will be considered. Section three will deliver specific tools, you, the clinician, can use with your clients to assess, improve and maximize nutrition to optimize mental health. Course #11-06 | 2017 | 21 pages | 10 posttest questions

Emotional Overeating: Practical Management TechniquesEmotional Overeating: Practical Management Techniques is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that discusses the causes of emotional eating and provides cognitive and behavioral exercises that can help to eliminate the addictive pattern.

Statistics report that Americans are an increasingly overweight population. Among the factors contributing to our struggle to stop tipping the scales is the component of “emotional eating” – or the use of food to attempt to fill emotional needs. Professionals in both the physical and emotional health fields encounter patients with emotional eating problems on a regular basis. Even clients who do not bring this as their presenting problem often have it on their list of unhealthy behaviors that contribute to or are intertwined with their priority concerns. While not an easy task, it is possible to learn methods for dismantling emotional eating habits. The goals of this course are to present information about the causes of emotional eating, and provide a body of cognitive and behavioral exercises that can help to eliminate the addictive pattern. Course #40-26 | 2011 | 44 pages | 30 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

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Social Media and Mental Health

Social Media and Mental Health

What would you be doing right now if social media did not exist? There are still some that have not succumbed to the dynamic world of relationship building, sharing, following, messaging, promoting etc. via social media. However, the vast majority (roughly 81 percent) of the U.S. population has at least one social media account, and Facebook alone has about 1.94 billion monthly active users worldwide.

In fact, many people have come to prefer this method of interacting over traditional, in-person, face-to-face socializing. As a psychologist and social media user, I question the overwhelming fascination with social media. Some of us remember life before social media, though recollections may be murky at best.

When I consider the basis for the seemingly instinctual drive toward social media, two words come to mind: “emotional tug.” Most humans establish connections on a visceral level; sure we are in contact with new people and places daily, but certainly not every single encounter moves us. We appreciate things that make us feel: comedians make us laugh; music motivates us; haunted houses elicit fear. Social media is more like the roller coaster of emotions, possessing the ability to create laughter, love, inspiration, sadness and fear all in a matter of minutes.

Have you ever experienced an abrupt change in mood for better or worse after scrolling through your feed? Have you ever dedicated way too much time arguing with someone over a parasocial relationship (a one-sided relationship that exists only on social media and generally with a celebrity)? If so, you are well aware of the social media effect.

Not every social media user has the same agenda, but it is likely that every user is looking to connect, share and/or learn, all of which require some type of emotional involvement. The limbic system, often referred to as the emotional brain, is an area of our brain thought to house the amygdala, otherwise known as the center for emotions, behavior and motivation. Because of this, it is reasonable to believe that social media has the ability to activate the amygdala.

Understanding the connection between emotion and events could significantly improve your social media experience. Specifically, social media has the ability to evoke happiness, sadness and excitement as well as anxiety, depression, envy, frustration etc. and essentially dictate our moods. If the only emotions you ever experience as you browse social media are inspiration, love and happiness, then you are probably an anomaly and able to teach a lesson or two in social media management and engagement.

However, most social media users experience a more diverse set of emotions. You have probably heard someone say in reference to a social media connection, “I am so tired of blank.” It is far less common to hear, “I am so tired of hearing about his/her vacations and success because it makes me feel jealous and frustrated with my own life.” People generally do not share the deeper negative feelings that emerge due to either lack of insight or shame about the feeling itself. To clarify, if you experience not so desirable feelings while noticing someone else’s success on Facebook, this does not mean that you are someone who wants other people to fail; it just means that you are having a narcissistic moment that compels you to make another person’s post or journey all about you.

The depression and anxiety that arise as a result of your unpleasant social media experience do not merely vanish after you exit, but linger, affecting you consciously or subconsciously. Depression and anxiety surface when we anticipate a threat to our wellbeing; persistent focus on what one perceives as negative stimuli feeds depression and anxiety.

Is it possible to use social media and have a healthy state of mind? Yes, though balance is key. It is essential to manage and check yourself often.

Practice metacognition (think about your thinking) to recognize irrational versus rational thoughts. All are vulnerable to subconscious influence and awareness takes practice. Replace your passive scrolling and engaging with focus and intent, understanding that connecting is optional. A diverse network generally comes with a diverse set of opinions, and if your tolerance is not yet up for the challenge, it may be best to connect only with like-minded individuals.

Course excerpt from Therapy Tidbits – September/October 2017

Related Online CE Course:

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2016 | 32 pages | 15 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

How Should Therapists Handle “Friending” Requests?

Course excerpt from Ethics and Social Media

The Phenomenon of “Friending”

Friending Request from ClientA “friend” used to be an individual of one’s personal acquaintance, with whom a sense of liking, trust, and camaraderie had been built over some period of mutual experience and interaction. Many people considered themselves fortunate if – over the period of a lifetime – they were able to count a handful of others among those they considered to be friends.

With the advent of Facebook, that concept has morphed into something that may or may not bear any resemblance to the original definition. In many cases, people who are friends on Facebook were personal real-life friends before joining up on Facebook. In other cases, new friends are made online, without the benefit (or bother) of any face-to-face interaction. In still other cases, individuals spend a great deal of time and effort collecting “friends” online for the sake of amassing a very large audience for their postings.

In some cases, these numbers are quite extraordinary. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center (2014), the average number of friends a person has on Facebook was 338. A generational ranking revealed – not surprisingly – that number of Facebook friends was inversely correlated with one’s age. Millennials (age 18-29) averaged 300 friends (a quarter of these young users had more than 500 friends in their network), Gen Xers (age 30 – 49) 200, and Younger Boomers (age 50 -64) 75. People over the age of 65 average 30 friends.

To Friend or Not to Friend

One of the more complex challenges facing contemporary therapists (at least those who use Facebook) is the question of how to respond when receiving a friending request from a client. It is the arrival of this simple electronic message that precipitates a cascade of questions concerning a broad spectrum of ethical issues from privacy and confidentiality to multiple relationships and clinical competency. Zur (2012) states it this way:

“Currently, more than 900 million people around the world and more than 157 million in the United States [these numbers are already outdated] have Facebook pages, and at least some of them may be your clients. Clearly, the issue of when, or whether, to use Facebook touches on just about every clinical and ethical issue of importance to therapists, particularly issues relating to boundaries and dual relationships. Should you even have a Facebook page, and if so, how much of your private life should you show? Who should see what? Should you use Facebook’s privacy settings to distinguish what you show among colleagues, best friends, family members, and old, new, and potential clients? How do you respond to clients who want to ‘friend’ you?”

These questions are answered in different ways by different therapists. Kolmes (2009) offers this view:

“Inviting clients to your personal profile can also be perceived as inviting them into your personal life. Unless you utilize very strict privacy settings on your profile, those who become your ‘friends’ can post and view messages posted to your Wall, they can view your photo albums and read the comments on these albums, and they can see and interact with your other ‘friends.’ This can send mixed messages to clients, especially if they are unclear about therapeutic boundaries to begin with. If you would never think of inviting a client to a cocktail party at your home with your friends and family present, then you may want to think twice about inviting them to be your friend on Facebook (or approving their friend requests). It is the online equivalent of inviting them into your social circle.”

Laura Hahn, a counselor in private practice, suggests that therapists refrain from friending clients on Facebook. “Make it a policy by adding a statement to your informed consent documentation and inform your clients up front. Counselors who find clients being overly interested in the counselor’s personal life and conducting intrusive online searches can explore that topic with the client in therapy” (in Shallcross, 2011).

Questions for Psychotherapists to Consider Before Responding to Clients’ Friend Requests

It is useful – probably even necessary – for a therapist to spend some time pondering the friending issue before plunging into the world of digital friendship. On the Zur Institute website (http://www.zurinstitute.com/socialnetworking.html) there is a list of questions for therapists to consider as they face this decision.

Learn more: https://www.pdresources.org/course/index/6/1147/Ethics-and-Social-Media

Ethics and Social MediaEthics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2016 | 32 pages | 15 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

Technology-Crazy: Are We Setting our Kids up for Future Addiction?

By KENS 5’s Deborah Knapp

Technology-crazy: Are we setting our kids up for future addiction?Is the internet making us crazy?

New research finds 61 percent of those surveyed feel addicted to the internet, and 68 percent say they suffer from internet “disconnect anxiety.”

Another study found people check their smartphones 34 times a day. In fact, it had become a compulsion. Whether it’s our smartphones, Facebook, Twitter or video games, every age group is at risk of being unknowingly obsessed with technology.

One expert has said the computer is like electronic cocaine, fueling cycles of mania followed by depression. Mental health and dependency specialist, Dr. Gregory Jantz, suggests a tech-detox day.

Watch the full story: http://www.kens5.com/news/Are-we-setting-our-kids-up-for-future-addiction–162132545.html

Related Online CEU Course:

Ethics and Social MediaEthics and Social Media is a 2-hour online CEU course that offers psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on Social Networking Services (SNS) like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy.

Professional Development Resources is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC #5590); the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC #000279); the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists (#193); and the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board (#RCST100501).

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Texting or Friending Patients Frowned Upon in New Professional Guidelines

By Robert Preidt

Doctors Urged to Refrain from Social Media Contacts With PatientsIn this age of texting, tweets and Facebook “friends,” doctors should show restraint when it comes to reaching out to patients through social media, new guidelines say.

Updated recommendations for online ethics from the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) say the key is drawing a clear line between professional life and social life.

If physicians fail to do so, the “potential dangers are confidentiality concerns, replacement of face-to-face or phone interaction, and ambiguity or misinterpretation of digital interactions,” the American College of Physicians said in a news release.

Some of the key recommendations:

  • Doctors should not contact or “friend” patients through personal social media such as Facebook.
  • Text-messaging should not be used for passing along medical information except when there is patient consent. Even then, doctors should use “extreme caution,” the guidelines said.
  • Careful judgment is needed when a doctor is contacted through email or other electronic communications by someone who is seeking medical advice but has had no previous contact with the doctor. In such situations, it is usually best for the doctor to encourage the person to schedule an office visit, or, in the case of an urgent concern, to go to the nearest emergency department.
  • Doctors should establish an online professional profile so that it appears first during an online search, instead of a review of the doctor from a physician ranking site. This can provide more control, so that the information read by patients is accurate.
  • Medical trainees need to be careful about what they post online, or they could damage their future careers.

“It is important for physicians to be aware of the implications for confidentiality and how the use of online media for non-clinical purposes impacts trust in the medical profession,” Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, president and CEO of the FSMB, said in the news release.

The policy paper appears online and in the April 16 print issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

SOURCE: American College of Physicians, news release, April 11, 2013

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_135870.html

Related Online CEU Course:

Ethics and Social MediaEthics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education course for psychologists, counselors, social workers, and MFTs. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on Social Networking Services (SNS) like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy.

CE Information:

Professional Development Resources is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC #5590); the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC #000279); the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage & Family Therapists (#193); and the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board (#RCST100501).

Inside The Digital Lives of Teens

Three facts parents should know about social media natives.

By: Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD

Inside The Digital Lives of TeensMost American teenagers have used some form of social media. And 75% maintain an online social profile, mostly through Facebook. A recent research study, Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives, provides fascinating insight into the digital habits of today’s 13-17 year-olds and how social media makes them feel about themselves.

When asked how social media affected their emotional well-being, teens overwhelmingly reported positive outcomes. They were far more likely to say they felt more confident, less depressed, more outgoing, more popular, less shy, and more sympathetic to others because of their online interactions. However, for about 5% of young people, the results were more negative.

The majority of teens (52%) say that social media has improved their relationships with friends while only 4% say that friendships have been harmed. Similarly, many more report that social media has helped relationships with family members (37%) rather than hurt them (2%).

From the 40-page study, three findings stood out that will be particularly pertinent to parents of social media natives..

1. Face-to-Face Communication Ranks High

Contrary to fears that digital communications will turn young people into robotic creatures unable to relate intelligently in the real world, most teenagers prefer face-to-face interactions. This finding supports my own research study on civically-engaged youth. While the teens in my study were highly active in the online world, they admitted their greatest learning and enjoyment came from face-to-face relationships.

The reason we observe so many young people texting is because 68% of them do so on a daily basis! Next to face-to-face interactions, texting is king. Why? Teens say It’s quick, easy, and gives them the opportunity to think before responding.

Because they value face-to-face relationships, many agreed that social media takes time away from being with people in-person, which they often perceive as a dilemma.

2. Teens Sometimes Want to Unplug

Like adults, teens often feel the need to unplug from their digital lives. One young person said, “Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and relax with no way possible to communicate with anyone.”

When asked if they felt “addicted” to their cell phones, 41% answered “Yes.” And they also pointed out that parents were addicted to gadgets too. In fact, many wished parents would spend less time on their devices and felt frustrated when people surfed the internet, checked email, or texted while they are hanging out together.

3. Social Networking Begins Early

Facebook is by far the most favorite social networking experience for teens. Three-quarters of 13 to 14-year-olds frequent social networking sites, and that goes up to 87% by the time they reach 15 to 17 years of age.

While most teens say they understand Facebook privacy policies, many do not. Before your teen posts a profile, this is one of the most important things to help them review and understand. Young people must recognize that their digital profiles will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Among teens with an online social profile, there are three reasons why they enjoy and benefit from social networking. 1) It helps them keep in closer touch with friends, particularly the ones they don’t see regularly, 2) They become more deeply acquainted with students at their own schools, and 3) They are able to connect with people with whom they share common interests.

Should Parents Worry?

Many parents worry that Facebook and other social networking sites will bring emotional harm to their children, either from predators, cyber-bullying, or inconsiderate friends. But the majority of teens don’t believe these sites affect them emotionally, one way or the other.

For young people who do report a change in psychological health, only a small percentage reported a negative change. In fact, emotional well-being was not discernibly different if a teen was a heavy or light social networker.

One troublesome result of this study is how often teens encounter online hate speech. This includes language that is sexist, homophobic, racist, or derogatory in other ways. Forty percent of teens report this to be a common element of online dialogue. It’s a good idea for parents to prepare teens for this and teach them how to respond. Check out the article, Teaching Civility in an F-Word Society, for some guidance.

This study, while limited in scope, can give parents some peace of mind. While cyber-bullying is real and some young people are genuinely harmed by their online relationships, these situations are the exception, not the rule. We should set rules and give children guidelines for online behavior just as we do for behavior in the real world.

The bottom line: Take a deep breath and be grateful for the fact that most teens using social media and digital devices report an overall sense of happiness and confidence. And despite the fact that their lives are intertwined with technology for evermore, they mostly appreciate the face-to-face time they spend with their friends and family. Let’s hope that never changes!

Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201207/inside-the-digital-lives-teens

Physicians in Hot Water for Online Missteps

By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today

Most state medical boards have received — and acted on — complaints about physicians’ online behavior, a survey showed.

Physicians in Hot Water for Online MisstepsOf 48 state medical boards responding to the survey, all but four indicated that they had received reports of “online professionalism violations” at some point, such as prescribing drugs over the Internet without seeing the patients or misrepresenting credentials, according to S. Ryan Greysen, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues.

Most of the complaints led to disciplinary proceedings or consent orders, Greysen and colleagues reported in a research letter published in the March 21 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The letter did not indicate the total number of violations or their outcomes, but many of the boards indicated that they had received more than three reports of potential violations in some of the eight specific categories covered in the survey.

“Inappropriate patient communication online” — a category that included sexual misconduct — had been reported to nearly all the 48 responding boards, as were misrepresentations of credentials and use of the Internet for inappropriate practice, such as online prescribing to unseen patients.

Somewhat less common, but still reported by at least half of the boards, were complaints about the following online behaviors:

  • Violation of patient confidentiality
  • Failure to reveal conflicts of interest
  • Derogatory comments about patients
  • Depictions of intoxication
  • Discriminatory language or practice

The survey was sent to 68 executive directors of state medical and osteopathic boards, with a response rate of 71%.

One-quarter of respondents indicated that their boards had taken no action on one or more reported violations. More than 70% of respondents said they had pursued some type of disciplinary procedure including formal hearing, consent order, or informal warning.

Suspension, restriction, or revocation of licenses had occurred at 56% of boards. Other sanctions included letters of reprimand, fines, and mandatory education or community service.

Violation reports came from different types of sources — patients or their families, other physicians, other types of professionals, or board staff during the course of other investigations.

Online misbehavior by physicians is probably still rare, Greysen and colleagues wrote, but “this is likely to change as the use of social media continues to grow.”

The researchers also noted that the violations in many cases were serious, and their public nature “may reflect poorly on physicians’ values.”

Greysen and colleagues suggested that regulators and physicians should specifically address online practices through “consensus-driven, broadly disseminated principles.”

Careless Use of Facebook Can Jeopardize Your Career

By Frances Patterson, PhD, MAC

Careless Use of Facebook Can Jeopardize Your CareerI often am asked questions regarding the ethical issues for counselors regarding social networking, specifically Facebook. At that point I usually hear about a situation that has caused professional and personal problems for an addictions professional. In each scenario that follows names have been changed and situations modified to protect the identity of those involved.

Situation 1 – Using Social Media to Monitor Clients

Danny is a substance abuse counselor who decided to join Facebook for a specific reason: he wanted to look up clients to see if they were posting information on Facebook that would indicate they were using.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Client autonomy: Clients in treatment have a right to choose whether to use alcohol or other drugs. As a counselor would you drive by a client’s house to see if that client is sitting on the front porch smoking a joint? Clients have a right to their personal lives outside of treatment, whether or not it is what we would choose for them.

Counseling relationship: Trust is a major component of the counseling relationship. A client could consider it a violation of that trust to “spy” on him on Facebook. Before the advent of Facebook, a counselor asked clients if they were using and conducted drug screens. Should our methods be any different today?

Do no harm: Is there the possibility that such actions could harm a client? We must always consider the possible outcomes of our actions when it involves client care. A client could possibly feel betrayed by her counselor if such “investigation” is pursued by the counselor.

Professional boundaries: One of our responsibilities as counselors is to have healthy professional boundaries. These boundaries can easily become blurred if or when we begin to intrude on the personal lives of clients outside the professional relationship. Just as we need to set appropriate boundaries with clients regarding our personal Facebook pages, we too should respect their boundaries.

Situation 2 – The Personal/Private Divide

Mary Beth was a counselor at a large addictions treatment facility. She is not in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. She had recently returned from a vacation at the beach. A client of one of Mary Beth’s colleagues at the same facility mentioned during an individual session that he had been searching people on Facebook and found Mary Beth’s page. He stated, “I really liked those pictures of her vacation.” After the client left, his counselor looked up Mary Beth on Facebook to see what the client was referring to. To her dismay she found that Mary Beth had no security on her page and all of her information was open to anyone who came across it. Additionally, she had posted pictures of herself in a bikini, holding a beer in her hand, with a male companion who appeared to be fondling her. Mary Beth was fired from her job. The agency maintained that she was not projecting a professional image and was negatively affecting the reputation of the agency.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Counseling relationship: What did the pictures portray to clients and colleagues who saw them on her Facebook page? We have a responsibility to safeguard the integrity of our relationship with clients. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, Principle I) Part of this safeguard is to always being aware of perceptions and how those perceptions may change the professional relationship with a client.

Professional responsibility: If Mary Beth had put the security blocks on her page which would allow only invited friends to see her page, she would have been acting more responsibly. The addiction professional recognizes that those who assume the role of assisting others to live a more responsible life take on the ethical accountability of living responsibly. The addiction professional recognizes that even in a life well-lived, harm might be done to others by works and actions. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, Principle IV)

Discretion: Mary Beth’s actions in regards to Facebook appear to be poor professional judgment. She certainly has a right to her personal life and to enjoy herself. On the other hand, professional judgment includes how we conduct ourselves in public, even in our leisure time which includes what we post on a Facebook page for all to view.

Do no harm: Although Mary Beth is not in recovery herself, the posting of the picture of her drinking may cause undue influence on clients to assume that if it is OK for a counselor to participate in these activities that it must be acceptable for them also. Or clients may believe that Mary Beth is not “practicing what she preaches”. Again, often we are talking about perceptions which may not always be reality.

Situation 3 – Information Sharing

Carla is in private practice working as a substance abuse professional. She recently joined Facebook and being a very social person, enjoys the interactions each evening with her Facebook friends. One of those friends is a counselor at a local substance abuse in-patient facility. For the past few evenings Carla has noticed that her friend has begun to post information about clients she has seen that day, funny things they have done or unusual crises they have experienced. Although her friend is not stating client names she has told others where she works.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Confidentiality: We are to make every effort to protect the confidentiality of client information. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, Principle III) Carla’s friend has stated where she works and now she is talking about clients of that facility. She is not honoring confidentiality, even though she is not stating client identifying information. She may inadvertently be giving enough information that someone could deduce to whom she is referring. This is also a violation of client rights and their expectation that their information will be protected.

Due diligence: We are to be conscientious and careful in all of our actions when it concerns clients and our professional life. We, as professional counselors, should make every effort to avoid “gossiping” about clients. It is possible that, unbeknownst to this counselor, a client may be a “friend of a friend” on Facebook and actually can see what this counselor is posting and recognizes that the counselor is telling her story.

Legal concern: Carla is bound under 42 CFR Part 2 and HIPAA to make every reasonable effort to protect client information. This type of behavior could result in litigation.

Resolving Ethical Issues: Carla has a responsibility to go to her friend and discuss the ethical and legal concerns she has regarding her friend’s behavior. If her friend is unwilling to change that behavior, Carla next needs to seek supervision and consider her licensure reporting responsibility. (NAADAC Code of Ethics, principle VIII)

Situation 4 – Venting Frustrations

Martin has been having a difficult time at work lately. It is increasingly more stressful with an increased number of clients who are exhibiting more severe symptoms, fewer staff and fewer resources. He has recently been having disagreements with his supervisor. He has also begun to post his “venting” on his Facebook page.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Discretion: As professionals we have an obligation to use utmost discretion in all of our professional life. Ethically, Martin would be well served to seek other supervision or peer support in his stressful situation rather than venting on his Facebook page.

Professional relationships: Martin is not building, supporting or treating his professional relationships respectfully. As professionals we are to respect other professionals by going to them when we have problems that are affecting us. I have heard many accounts of people losing their jobs as a result of airing their complaints about their jobs and employers on Facebook.

Situation 5 – Compromised Testimonials?

A 12 step focused residential treatment facility developed a Facebook page as a means of advertising. It is also a means for keeping a connection with former clients. These former clients may also write comments on their experience with the treatment program. Recently the administrator contacted former clients requesting that they post testimonials on Facebook. A counselor conducting patient aftercare was made aware of the request and was concerned about confidentiality.

What are the Ethical Concerns?

Informed consent and Confidentiality: In this situation clients need to be fully informed about the risks of posting testimonials on Facebook. If they do post voluntarily, they should be informed of the risk of confidentiality being compromised.

Due Diligence: This treatment facility, as well as the counselor who was made aware of the request, have an obligation to be diligent in the care of clients and sensitive client information.

Exploitation: Is the facility using client testimonials to help others who are suffering with addictions or are they using this to further their business and bring in revenue? The concern here is whether or not it is exploiting clients to ask them to help in marketing a program by posting personal testimonials about their treatment experience. Clients may not understand the far-reaching outcomes of this course of action. Treatment programs need to consider all aspects of their decisions to use media such as Facebook to market their programs.

Reporting

Often I hear professionals say that they hesitate to report unethical behavioral because they are friends with the person or they don’t want to hurt the other person’s career. As licensed or certified professionals, we have an ethical and legal obligation to report unethical behavior that cannot be resolved or that is such an egregious violation that it is beyond being resolved.

As technology grows and becomes more and more available, we as professionals must always consider the ramifications of our actions when using any technology, including social network sites such as Facebook. When ethics are violated, we have an obligation to address the issue and report to licensure boards when necessary.

Be true to yourself, your profession and your colleagues.

Source: http://www.naadac.org/component/content/article/48-publications/643-careless-use-of-facebook-can-jeopardize-your-career

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