I have been doing some reading lately on the rates of depression in younger generations, connected specifically to internet connectivity, smartphone use, and social media (#SoMe). Such use is clearly linked to much higher rates of depression, but also growing incivility and lack of tolerance for stressful situation (1, 2, & 3).
Nursing schools have stepped up with policies about social media use and professional communication, but still only 30% had policies in a 2018 published study on social media use (4).
The trend I am seeing is closed groups on places like facebook and very negative commentary as well as an uptick in academic integrity issues, such as cheating and sharing of assignments. As an academic being proactive, professional, and positive, is reiterated and mentored to students as well as a frank discussions on the effects of cheating through internet use and that long term effect on the profession, practice, and future patient outcomes, regardless on if the student is caught in the act or not.
Further, the level of negativity by students and nurses professionals, anonymous or not, is alarming, shouting at professional organization in all caps postings, talking poorly bout employers, clinical sites, or classroom experiences, use of profanity, and spreading of rumors and misinformation seem to run rampant. Part of my mission has been to help protect students by letting them know that future employers, preceptors, and faculty can see those postings and that they are not helping the overall view of the profession with the use of negativity instead of positive, open, communication.
However, let me note that these same students seem to be more easily dissatisfied, depressed, and overwhelmed than students in my past decades as educator. I am struggling with how to help support them in that. One of my goals is to spread care and positivity with them in the classroom and in communication. Although, I must admit that there are days that I struggle with this as well… finding myself somedays less resilient and wondering if I suffer from the same social media and internet issues?
What I am wondering is if any of you are seeing this bleed into professional practice, at any level… bedside nursing, community nursing, primary care, advanced practice? Are you yourself sometimes suffering from depression and incivility? Is it affecting your own practice? What proactive steps are you taking to combat it?
What about depression and lack of resilience? Is this affecting our care as well in nursing? How are we combatting that with the ever growing stress of the work of nursing as a whole?
The internet has been a great equalizer and such a joy for me at times. I have learned great stories and much from colleagues who are miles or oceans apart. I believe it is good, but so is red wine with proper use, understanding, and moderation.
I look forward to your input and ideas.
- Lin, L., Sidani, J., Shensha, M., Radovic, A., et al. (2016). Association between social media use and depression among U.S. young adults. Depression and Anxiety, 33(4); 323-331. doi: 1002/da.22466
- Anderson, A., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D., Xenos, M., & Ladwig, P. (2013). The “Nasty Effect:” Online incivility and risk perceptions of emerging technologies. Journal of computer-mediated Communication, 19(3), 373-387. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12009
- Hou, XL, Wang, H, Guo, C, Gaskin, J, Rost, D, & Wang, JL (2017). Psychological resilience can help combat the effect of stress on problematic social networking site usage. Personality and Individual Differences, 109 61-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.12.048
- De Gagne, J, Yamane, S, Conklin, J, Chang, J, & Kang, H. (2018). Social media use and cybercivility guidelines in U.S. nursing schools: A review of websites. Journal of Professional Nursing, 34(1), 35-41. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2017.07.006