Social Media and Caregiving

Social media takes a lot of space in our modern society, especially today. Sometimes it seems like everyone is connected, and it can make us feel disconnected if we are not online. But being online doesn’t mean you will connect with others; you might feel supported, but also more alone, especially for caregivers. Social media is tricky because there are so many components that make it both positive and negative. We decided to look at the pros and cons of social media use by caregivers, and the implications it may have on their mental health.

Advantages of social media use

There are many ways that social media can benefit caregivers. Most important right now: social media allows us to stay connected to family. They can get updates from you and the person you are caring for. It is an essential way to maintain important relationships in your life, no matter the distance.

It can also be used as a platform for reaching out to other caregivers in similar situations. Sometimes knowing that someone else is going through the same thing as you can bring a sense of comfort and hope. Social media can also become a way to vent any sadness, anger, and insecurities. Platforms like Facebook groups give the chance for people to connect with those they would have never met before (like someone from a different city, or even another country!).

Social media use can also be advantageous because it can be a learning platform. Many people share informative articles on Twitter (for example), and this can allow the user to learn more about a specific illness or condition, which can be very helpful as a caregiver. Make sure the source material is reliable, of course!

Downsides of social media use

It can be easy to get swept away in the positive online world of social media, and it is just as easy to fall into a downward spiral.

Some may experience feelings of sadness and jealousy because others’ lives seem to be better than theirs. Often times, people will post only the positives that happen in their lives, and so when we see their posts we think they have the perfect life and that our life is not as exciting; that can make us feel trapped, especially if we are taking care of another person.

Excessive social media use can lead to an addiction, and this applies to everyone (not just caregivers). If someone is always online and constantly checking social media, it can affect the need to carry out certain responsibilities or be in “the present moment”.

What is right for you?

Every person is different, and every person reacts differently. What’s important to know is how YOU feel. If you see that you feel sad or angry most of the time after you look at other peoples’ social media pages, then maybe it would be a good idea to step away from it. As a caregiver, it can sometimes be difficult to see other people happy because your situation might be demanding and draining. Listen to your feelings and follow what makes you content. If you find joy in staying active on social media, then do it! But if it affects you in a negative way more than it brings you joy, then don’t be afraid to disconnect from the online world.

–Gabrielle Lesage

As seen in the Summer 2020 newsletter.