Social Media and Nurses: Promising or Perilous?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


November 17, 2011

In This Article

Social Media Emerges

Ressler defines social media as the "constellation of Internet-based tools that help a user to connect, collaborate, and communicate with others in real time."[1] The Internet has become increasingly interactive, and social media tools facilitate the interactions between users, offering countless ways to communicate and share. Social networking sites are hugely popular, with good reason. These sites enable users to connect with friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers, wherever and whenever they wish, to centralize their social interactions, and receive nearly instantaneous feedback.

The current generation of students and young professionals has grown up with MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter; email and texting, blogging and YouTube. For many, it is second-nature to share thoughts, photographs, and events of daily life, both momentous and mundane, with a wide online audience. Rather than shying away from such exposure, the free flow of information possible on networking sites is embraced by this generation.

Problems arise when such information spills over into the work arena, and is not carefully and thoughtfully filtered. Transgressions can't be easily glossed over and forgotten. Sure, the poster may be able to take down a photo or alter a comment, but those actions don't guarantee that the questionable material is gone. The "evidence" can exist forever in cyberspace.


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