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5 Ways Social Media Can Harm Your Nursing Practice

According to the first comprehensive study of nurses’ social media usage, engaging with social networking sites too much can negatively impact patient care.

The research, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, surveyed 461 nurses from 53 countries and asked them to agree or disagree with statements like “I lose my concentration during work when I hear the beep sound of notification on social networking site/application” using the Likert scale.

RELATED: Widespread Depression Among Nurses Linked to Medical Errors

Study authors put forward five hypotheses about the effect of social media addiction on nursing practice and found all of them to be true:

1. Social networking site addiction reduces employees’ performance.

2. Social networking site addiction creates a higher likelihood an employee will get distracted from a task.

3. Task distraction negatively impacts employees’ performance.

4. Task distraction is the main reason social media addiction can harm an employee’s performance.

5. If employees can manage their social media addiction, they can improve their work performance.

The research has clear implications for both nurses and administrators, according to the paper.

Hospital managers should create regulations that prevent nurses from using social media or cell phones at work, and they should also consider implementing “self-management” training programs. The study defines self-management as “tracking one’s behavior while working towards an assigned task and not being distracted by other things.”

Similarly, the authors recommend nurses endeavor to reduce their individual social media use at work.

RELATED: 5 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Nurses

Do you worry that you’re struggling with social media addiction? Here are some tips, via Forbes, to get it under control:

  • Analyze your problem. Admit you have one, and ask yourself why you’re checking social media in the first place.
  • Create barriers to accessing social media. Delete the apps from your phone and download a newsfeed blocker on your desktop. Leave your phone at the nurses’ station and set it to “Do No Disturb” mode or turn off your notifications.
  • Replace social media with a less-distracting activity. If you go online because you’re bored or stressed, train yourself to take a short walk, wash your hands or do a quick breathing exercise instead.
  • Outsource accountability. Try downloading an accountability app (Forbes recommends Google’s) or ask a friend to take the journey with you. That way, you can kindly call each other out if you see the other person slip up.
  • Reward yourself. This is a central component of forming a new habit. Make it through a whole shift without checking Instagram? Indulge yourself in a snack or add an extra 30 minutes to your self-care routine.

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