July 30, 2009

A Different Take on Social Media: Our patients...Today's YouTube Stars?

“Did you see, I made the news”, said my teenage patient a few hours after being shot twice in the legs.

“No”, I said, “I’ve been busy taking care of the other patients in the ED”.

“Too bad”, he replied. “It was pretty cool”.

I have never thought of having a gunshot wound as pretty cool. However, I am not part of this new generation that expects to be a part of social media, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

A moment on the trends I have been seeing….

1. Teens with injuries sustained while doing some activity (likely not a safe or wise activity) that is being taped for production on YouTube. For example, with the warm weather brings the annual “what can we do to make a Slip-and-Slide more dangerous”? The last two teens with splenic lacerations opted to show me the injury as it was happening as depicted by video on YouTube. That is, before coming to the hospital, the patient (or the patient’s friend) took the time to post the video of the injury inducing event to YouTube.

2. Families videotaping injuries instead of helping the child being injured. I recently cared for a young man that was attacked in a local park. When I asked for a description of what happened, his older brother (of adult age) said he could show me the video if I wanted. When I asked why he chose to video the event instead of help his brother, he replied that he thought it would be better for the police and the news to have the video.

3. Victims of violence feeling a sense of accomplishment when their stories are covered on the local news. The gunshot victim provides a classic example.

Perhaps our entrance into social media is not best served by the medical professionals producing their own spots, but instead helping to prevent our young patients (and when necessary, their families) from being the star of these less than endearing media clips.

This is a new health crisis impacting the youth of today. I am at a loss as to the root of the problem. Is it due to the dramatic increase in reality TV? Are kids getting the message that since anyone can post a video on-line they are not worthy unless their video is the most dramatic, dangerous, outlandish, or destructive? What would cause a family member to choose allowing injury to a loved one over stopping an assault? Perhaps in addition to reviewing our patients’ charts prior to a visit, we need to Google them too…then discuss what we find when we see them in our offices!

By Elizabeth Murray DO MBA

Editor's Note:

Dr. Murray has offered us a bird's eye view into the real world of how kids are using social media. Our job is to figure out how to use this information clinically. Perhaps it's as simple as asking "been on YouTube recently?"