A Small Rant On, The Internet.

7 10 2008

I have a bit of a rant, and considering it is on the topic of technology I figured I would write it here.

Recently I have been becoming more and more concerned with how the internet is being used by some people. (No, I’m not talking about the pedophila and all that other wonderful stuff). Particularly teens and young adults are using the internet to look up questions related to their health.

There are many websites out there that look at health. Web MD happens to be one that I actually find to be ok. But, if I was to type diabetes into the search engine and look up symptoms well sure I would get a lot of results. I’ll then click on  a website that I see right away. Well if I was a teen, what would I say to this ?

Well…. most people in general at some point have the first 7 symptoms it lists. Anyone who is impressionable (which includes the vast majority of teens) will then think “Oh my god!” I have diabetes. They then continue reading… and will probably decide that they have type 1 diabetes and possibly eve n type 2.

Let’s look at something else that is even more common. Over the past few weeks in particular I have noticed more and more teens looking at the BMI Index which is ridiculous. I found this powerpoint that illustrates that point. I read a post by a teen today that shocked me. This person was ready to lose over 100 pounds because their BMI told them that they were overweight.

Really my rant is this:

The internet might be great, due to having information at our fingertips within seconds. However, more people are using the internet to replace important people in our lives, such as doctors and psycologists. I understand how and why people do this, but really… how can we try to stop people from doing this? I am sure we all realize how this is affecting peoples lives. Just because they feel sick, they turn to the internet to find out what might be wrong with them. I thought of 4 symptoms just now and typed them in to the earch engine with the word symptoms this is what I found. As you can see there are a number of different things these ‘symptoms’ could lead to. For some people, this could send them into a panic attack and they will convince themselves that they have these illnesses. Try this for yourself: type into your search engine symptoms and then list a few different things, see what you come up with. Does it shock you? Does it intrigue you? Does it perhaps scare you? What if you were someone who took everything that was said for truth?

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3 responses

7 10 2008
Ian H.

Thanks for sharing the link to that PPT – what a great message! As for hypochondriacs and the internet, it’s been going on long before that. My mother is a GP, and she would consistently get a group of patients into her office everytime one of the major networks covered a big outbreak or new disease (“I think I have SARS”, “I’m pretty sure my symptoms mean I have Ebola”)… while I concede that more impressionable people have easier access to information now, it’s not really a new phenomenon…

7 10 2008
Andrea Prizeman

You are very welcome for sharing that link, I had to include it for that reason.

I definetely realize that hypochondria is not new, but I guess what I (maybe) am trying to say is that it’s alot easier for people to decide they have these things. They no longer have to go to someone or read something about it. They can simply be doing a search looking for ‘cures’ for the common cold and end up thinking they have … who knows what. I am sure you see the point 😀

8 10 2008
Ian H.

Indeed.

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