Whilst social media can be a great tool for connectivity, learning and celebrating creativity, there are health side-effects of being on social media platforms that need to be understood so people can use them in positive ways. Since its launch in 2018, RSPH’s ‘Looking after your self-ie: A guide to finding your balance on and offline’, eLearning course has been taken by nearly 12,000 people. The free programme shows how social media can affect the public’s wellbeing and offers practical advice on how to create healthy social media habits.

The RSPH, ‘Looking after your self-ie’ eLearning programme has recently been updated to offer guidance on social media activity and its potential effect on mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes after research shows that social media use has boomed during Covid-19, with a study from April 2020 revealing that nearly 47% of people spent longer on social media during lockdown.

 Although there are positive side-effects to using social media throughout Covid-19, including being able to connect with friends and family and using new-found free time to produce creative content, any increase in the amount someone uses social media can affect their mental and physical health. For example, an RSPH study found that depression, bullying, loneliness and sleep quality were some of the most prevalent health issues that were exacerbated by social media use. And in a survey of UK adults during lockdown, the equivalent of 7.4 million people said their wellbeing was affected through feeling lonely.

The updated ‘Looking after your self-ie’ eLearning programme includes information and advice that aims to improve how the public uses social media during Covid-19. The refreshed programme includes guidance on Influencer mis-information, how to use social media in a way that doesn’t affect your sleep and guidance on TikTok, an app which has boomed in popularity since lockdown began in March 2020.

Samantha King, RSPH Membership & Educational Services Manager, said:

"We're delighted to announce an update of the Looking after your self-ie programme. With social media use rocketing during lockdown, it has never been more important to be mindful of its potential effects on mental health, and make sure we're using it in a healthy and positive way. For many, social media will be a lifeline during Covid-19 - connecting families and friends and finding likeminded people to talk to while isolating. For others, it may be unknowingly causing further anxieties and stress during this difficult time. The programme provides practical guidance and useful tips to support users to practice self-care on and offline​, and includes advice on how to look after our mental wellbeing while using social media during lockdown."

 Find out more about the Looking after your self-ie: A guide to finding your balance on and offline’ eLearning course, or get in touch at [email protected]