His head thrashes side to side at night for hours on end while he hums loudly. Not knowing if this is normal three year old dreaming behaviour, night terrors, or signs of something more serious, his parents take to the internet to find out what they should be doing about it. You Tube specifically. It didn’t take them long to decide to book a doctors appointment. A year later he has a diagnosis of Epilepsy and his symptoms are being managed to reduce long term effects. This is a great example of how social media is currently playing a role in preventative health care and alerts us to the potential expansion in this area.
“#Parentingquestion What are your teething baby survival tips?”, “How much #TV should I let my child watch? #Parenthood” These are just two examples of recent parenting questions that were sent out into the Twitter world today. More and more millennial parents are turning to social media for parenting advice. In fact, some reports have found that millennial mothers are two times as likely to seek parenting advice on the internet than to ask other people and as high as 50% of Dads use social media once a day for the purpose of parenting. Since the sources of parenting information online are endless and anyone can post anything, parents are more likely to come across information that is not evidence based, motivated by consumerism and even potentially harmful. For many years now, Ontario Public Health Units have been involved in the promotion of positive parenting. The mandate of the public health system is to improve the health of the population through activities that promote health, protect health, and prevent disease and injury. Guided by the Ontario Public Health Standards and their Agency Strategic Plan, Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health has made promoting positive parenting one of their 5 strategic program priorities. In order to do this effectively and reach the right people with the right information, social media involvement has expanded. Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health has an existing agency Twitter and Facebook page as well as successful program-specific social media accounts such as the Twitter, Facebook and webpage for the Circles Guelph Wellington program aimed at changing how the community thinks and acts about poverty.