Paging Dr Facebook! Are you there, doc?
Gone are the days when our knee-jerk reaction to a child’s rash, cough, or illness is to place a call to our trusted family doctor. According to an Australian Child Health Poll, as many as six out of ten Australian parents are scrolling through blogs, websites, and other online platforms like Facebook for medical information and treatment advice.
The reasons behind this are obvious: apart from the convenience factor, there is value in obtaining the wisdom and experience of other parents and possibly those in the medical community without having to set foot in a doctor’s office. But things may have gone a bit too far with several online groups now outright banning posts shared on their Facebook threads that provide any semblance of medical advice.
Mums trust Facebook more than family
Families are still calling up their family doctors when their child is sick. But a survey conducted by Murdoch University found that the second most “valuable” source for health information were sites like Facebook, health websites, and Google. What was the most surprising was that these online resources came out ahead of mums taking recommendations from peers and family members.
The survey revealed just how much mums are using Facebook, with many popping onto the platform for as long as three hours every single day. Many mums log onto Facebook to connect with friends, catch up with family, and be a part of a community. A lot of these are specific “mum”-centric communities designed to help mums find kindred spirits, social support, and health recommendations.
Social media is not a replacement for credible health advice
Facebook is a fantastic arena for connecting with other mums and sharing both the joys and frustrations of motherhood. Parents must remember, however, that Facebook is a business – and its business isn’t to provide free medical advice.
The bottom line: take every bit of information you glean from online sources with a grain of salt. If someone recommends a product to you for your child, do your due diligence and research it. If someone provides you with medical advice, run it by your family doctor. If something seems urgent, don’t wait for a response – make the call to your doctor or head directly to the emergency room for immediate care and attention.
Facebook and other platforms can empower you as a parent. But take care when walking that fine line between empowerment and allowing them to take that power from you. The consequences can be considerable and may lead to drastic or haunting repercussions for you and your family.