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Are We Too Digitally Connected?

March 3, 2020

Canadians are more digitally connected than ever. According to the 2018 Canadian Internet Use Survey, 91% of Canadians aged 15 and older use the internet, and 88% of us own a smartphone.

What are we doing online? Many of us (84%) are shopping. About half of us stream music, and nearly 70% stream video. Seventy-eight percent of us use instant messaging apps, and 75% of us are active on social media. The biggest reasons for using social media? Staying in touch with friends and family and keeping up with their activities.

Too much of a good thing?

Being online has many benefits – including convenience, social connection, easy access to information and efficient communication – but it has a number of down sides, too. For one thing, being online is taking up a great deal of our time. Nearly 30% of survey respondents reported using the internet five to 10 hours per week, and a quarter were online for 10 to 20 hours per week. One-fifth of users were online 20 hours or more.

We’re also very attached to our smartphones – perhaps overly so. On a typical day, 45% of users checked their phones at least every half-hour, 21% used their phone while eating dinner, and 56% looked at their phones right before bedtime. (As you may know, using smartphones and other screens in the evening can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep .)

Among social media users, 35% stayed online longer than they anticipated, 20% said that they were less physically active because of their social media use, and 15% had trouble concentrating on tasks and activities. Twelve percent admitted that they “felt envious of the lives of others.” At some point in 2018, nearly a quarter of survey respondents felt compelled to decrease or take a break from their internet use.

Think twice before posting

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be helpful to health-care workers in many ways. For example, you can use them to connect with colleagues, follow health organizations, find and register for events, explore career opportunities and more. (Carecor Health Services is on Facebook and LinkedIn – we invite you to follow us.)

Social media is a powerful tool, so it’s important to use it responsibly. Be extremely careful not to share the personal information of patients and clients to whom you provide care. Even if you have good intentions and just want to share a moment from your workday or tell a heartwarming story, you should never post content about patients or photos of patients. This is true even if you leave out their name, age, location, etc. In addition, you should assume that anything you text, email or post – even privately – will exist online forever and could become publicly accessible in the future.

Many health organizations and companies, have social media policies in place to help employees understand the risks, protect patient information and avoid breaking privacy laws. If you have questions about the policy or need guidance about whether or not to post something online, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your supervisor.

Additional resources

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada provides information about privacy laws, staying safe on social media, and more. Here are three helpful links:

Staying safe on social media
Privacy and social media in the workplace
Privacy laws in Canada

Carecor Health Services provides a number of job opportunities in the acute care setting. Check out our patient care roles and apply today.

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