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Social media, also known as social networking, enables people to share personal and professional information using popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. We can quickly and easily share this information not only with our close circle of friends and colleagues, but with anyone in the world.

Not surprisingly, nurses often use social media to communicate, influence, and educate patients and the public at large. Yet, as with many things in life, there are pros and cons to using social media. As the use of social media continues to grow, so will the potential for both benefit and harm. In other words, while nurses should make the most of social media’s positive aspects, they must also recognize its potential pitfalls.


Social media has brought about many benefits for society:

  • It’s taught us a new language. Tools like social media and texting have resulted in a completely new vocabulary. LOL (laugh out loud) and BTW (by the way) are just two of the hundreds of terms that are used in communications sent via social media or text.

  • It’s reached a broader audience. Before the internet, most people simply wrote letters or made phone calls to communicate with another person. Now we can reach hundreds or even thousands of people in seconds with just a single social media post.

  • It enables us to share more, and more quickly. People can quickly post important personal news on their Facebook page to share it with their entire network of friends all at once.

  • It’s made us more succinct. Certain social media sites, such as Twitter, limit the number of characters you can use, which forces you to be more concise in your communication. The same goes for bloggers. Top bloggers know they have only a few seconds to draw a reader in, and they communicate accordingly!

In the healthcare arena, social media enables us to quickly share educational content to help inform patients about health-related issues. It has also provided healthcare professionals an opportunity to connect with others for personal and professional reasons.


Just as there are many advantages to using social media, there are some disadvantages. One is that it has become more and more difficult to hold a conversation, meeting, or conference without people checking their smartphones. Another is that you can’t read the other person’s tone or body language. (This is why I often end my posts, texts, and emails with a smiley face or a winking face—so the reader or recipient knows my true intentions.) Yet another is that people sometimes post inappropriate content on social media.

Regarding this third “con”: Nurses who post inappropriate content on social media are at a high risk of violating state and federal laws. ...

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