Some people use social media from everything like keeping in touch with old friends, to keeping up with the latest news, but how about to help stop the spread of disease??
A new study shows that "liking" a page on Facebook can actually decrease the likelihood of you getting a sexually transmitted disease. How?? Experts say it's all about the way a teen mind works, and the ability social media has to hold you accountable.
For many young people, like CMU student Dru Johnson, social media is an everyday part of life.
"I check sometimes right before I go to the gym, or right when I wake up," he said. Johnson said if he checks- in on Facebook at the gym, he makes sure he actually goes to the gym.
"I don't want to post something that I'm not doing," he said.
Nineteen- year- old Matthew Dale uses Twitter in the same way.
"If you have a constant schedule and you're saying you are going to the gym, then you stop, maybe one of your friends will notice it," Dale said.
Behavioral experts say it's that accountability that makes social media such a powerful tool in influencing young minds.
"This is one of the only venues where you can reach such large numbers of people simultaneously, so it's almost unprecedented," Sheana Bull, PhD, MPH, of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health conducted a study where one group of people liked a safe- sex Facebook page and were exposed to anti- STD messages and safe- sex material, while a second group liked a different, unrelated page.
"Those that were in the study group and exposed to our Facebook page were significantly more likely to be engaging in protective behaviors at two months, behaviors such as condom use that can help people prevent sexually transmitted infections," Bull said.
As for the control group, their condom use went down. Family counselor Matt Pettit relates the accountability factor to someone who has recently left rehab.
"Twelve step programs in thirty days, or thirty meetings in thirty days,90 and 90, and you hear that regularly, why do people do that? Well people do that because they need that accountability, they need that regular reminder, that this is what I'm going to do, this, is the right thing to do," Pettit said.
The college students we spoke with said if they were to like the safe- sex Facebook page, the constant exposure would remind them to be healthy.
"After reading it or seeing it constantly, then yea that would make me want to use it more and get more information about it," Johnson said.
"Seeing it over and over constantly, it would remind you to wear a condom and keep safe from STD’s,” Dale said.
Experts said another reason social media works so well is because it is so accessible, especially with smartphones that keep social media always right at our fingertips.
Sheana Bull said she hopes her study will encourage clinic services and other education services to integrate social media into their sexual health programs