Social Media. A World of Possibilities

I grew up in a small town in Northern Ontario, Canada.  When I was in high school I joined a pen pal program that linked students from across the world.  I spent years writing and receiving letters from a girl in Germany.   I still live and work in Northern Ontario and yesterday I organized a Skype meeting with a colleague in England.  I know I’ve given a lot of clues about my age in this anecdote; however, I’m happy to be the age that I am and feel lucky to have witnessed the incredible changes in technology.  I think any of you who searched for information from books in a library, or typed assignments on a typewriter, will understand the wonder and amazement with which I view our new world.

Out of curiosity I googled ‘world internet use’.  A total of 34.3% of the population uses the internet.  Highest use is in North America (78.6%), next Australia (67.6%) and Europe (63.2%).  Although numbers are lower in other parts of the world, the growth of internet use in the past 10 years has been phenomenal; Latin America/Caribbean (1,310.8% increase), Middle East (2,639.9% increase) and Africa (3,606.7% increase)[1].

The internet has led to the development of social media. There are many types of social media and all are used extensively.  Youtube “is the largest collection of videos on the internet. More than 24 hours of video are published every minute” [2](p. 38). Twitter is used by millions of people who send more than 200 million tweets each day. [3]Twitter is a way to influence content that people review such as articles, news, blogs.[4]  Facebook network is used by 149 million Americans each month; each one connected to an average of 214 people.[5] It is estimated that 92% of social network site users are on Facebook.4  Facebook provides social networks in real time, promoting diffusion and social support and sites can include links to blogs and websites4,5. Wikis are social media that encourage social interaction, support, collaborative learning and information sharing; Blogs are a way to disseminate opinions and information to communities; the sense of community establishes a sense of support and encouragement for the members.2

The internet and social media have had a profound impact on the information we are privy to, and the speed at which we receive it.  We learn about important world events, such as the protests against rape in India, in an instant. We are entertained, enlightened and educated by the internet and social media and the possibilities for communication and dissemination of information are only limited by our imaginations.

Many people I know don’t use the internet and social media.  They’re afraid, or don’t want to take the time to learn.  However, I’m excited and intrigued with social media and what it can offer me personally and professionally.  For example, I’ve searched Youtube for laughing baby videos to cheer me up, for information about getting rid of fruit flies and to help me figure out how to run a statistical analysis. I have a Facebook account to keep in touch with friends and I joined Twitter.  In fact, it was my interest in social media that led me to the position of Assistant Editor at the EBNursing Journal, to tweeting and blogging for this group and to setting up the EBN Twitter Journal Club.

I think perhaps by now you may have figured out the purpose of this blog.  I hope to encourage all of you to join our EBN Twitter Journal Club!  It’s easy and fun. You don’t have to register or even identify yourself. It’s a great opportunity to connect with nurses from around the world to discuss issues important to our practice.  The following link will take you to information about how to join the discussion about interesting and relevant research articles and   I hope you agree with me that our world holds amazing opportunities, in this case to learn from each other and to advance our profession.  The first discussion starts on January 17th. I hope to see you there!

Roberta Heale

[2] Yarrow, L.  (2012). Becoming social media savvy: using web 2.0 to enhance education. Topics in Clinical Nutrition, 27(1), 34-40.

[3] Schmidt, C.  (2012). Trending now: using social media to predict and track disease outbreaks.  Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(1), A31-A33.

[4] Ralph, L., Berglas, N., Schartz, S., & Brindis, C.  (2011). Finding teens in TheirSpace: using social networking sites to connect youth to sexual health services. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 8, 38-49.

[5] Cobb, N., Graham, A.  (2012).  Health behavior interventions in the age of Facebook. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 43(5), 571-572.


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