Social Media Sites Can Offer Healthy Influence

Photo courtesy of sxc.hu.

Nicole Krage, Contributor

Social media sites have become a dominant part of today’s society, especially among college students. However, when it comes to their role in the health world, they tend to have a negative reputation.

The Internet is commonly thought to be a source of peer pressure, often emphasizing the importance of being thin, but there might not be as much pressure on Internet users as many think there is.

opular sites used by Lewis students. While both do contain posts about food and dieting, some students, like secondary education major Sammi Toomey, find them beneficial.

“Pinterest is definitely positive,” Toomey said. “The pictures posted on there are more of fit girls rather than skinny. They actually look healthy. Pinterest also has motivational quotes and workout tips that will help you get in shape — not lose an unhealthy amount of weight.”

These quotes and tips also tend to make users feel more involved and connected to each other.

“You get to see how many people are also working toward a goal,” Toomey said. “They give different ways to work out, which makes me excited.”

Tumblr has also served as a source of motivation for students. Sophomore economics and finance major Justine Pratt said it holds an “I can do it, you can too!” attitude.

“Tumblr especially has influenced me to change some sort of general things about my diet,” Pratt said. “There are a lot of things that I tend to stay away from, and things that I’ve tried to include in my diet more because of it. A lot of it definitely makes you think about what you’re doing.”

Social media posts about diets or exercise have the potential to influence thinking positively or negatively, but Pratt said she believes they have been a positive influence.

“I think most people would say so, too,” Pratt said. “Because at least what I see isn’t usually encouraging you to feel bad about what you’re doing. It’s just to enlighten you.”

If sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are inspiring students to make healthy changes to their lives, where is their negative reputation coming from? What happened to the stereotypical negative impact? It turns out that this negativity can, for the most part, be avoided.

“It all depends on who you follow, and also on the individual,” Toomey said. “If a person is uncomfortable with their body and sees negative posts, (he or she) would probably have more of a chance of acting on it.”

Pratt agreed that a site’s influence depends on the user more than the posts, pointing out that one of the reasons why she finds Tumblr so positive is because she follows a few cooking blogs that post recipes for healthy meals.

For Lewis students looking for healthier options or workout tips, social media sites don’t have to be avoided altogether. Instead, just steer clear of discouragement and focus on healthy posts that motivate and inspire you.

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