Saturday, September 26, 2015

What you watch and click can impact your health

Every time you search Google, click on a link that someone has posted on Facebook, and engage in countless other ways on line, you are leaving a digital trail. This results in specific ads, product placements etc. that appear when you are on-line. For more information on this topic check out What Can Companies Predict From Your Digital Trail? 

And it’s not just the Internet. Millions of dollars are poured into understanding who watches what on TV, listens to the radio or reads print materials. As a result, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and sales pitches, with more and more specifically targeted to individuals (particularly on-line) then ever before.

And this impacts health how?

If you do a search on a certain chronic condition, say fibromyalgia, it wont be long before you will start seeing various fillers, ads and notices on your Facebook page and e-mail that in someway relates to the fact that you may have a health issue. Some of these items are just plain “snake oil” and scams. Other ads and “suggested posts/Apps for you” could provide information that is not only incorrect but could actually be risky. Then there are the various legal groups advertising free legal evaluation for a specific diagnosis, drug and/or  medical procedure – your basic ambulance chasers-that set people up to believe that if they have a problem with their health they can sue someone.

Finally, just watching the nightly news with the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality is enough to make anyone feel ill. If you're at all depressed, much of what passes for news will certainly make you feel worse. Beyond the news, there are plenty of TV shows that make you loose sleep or plain creep one out for a day or two.

Consider the following:

• Set limits: Too much TV, time spent in front of the computer or on your phone isn’t good for anyone, so limit it as much as possible. Consider video streaming since it eliminates ads when watching TV and don’t watch anything scary or upsetting too late in the evening as it could interfere with sleep.

• Use news outlets that limit advertisements as well as cover news and not sensational journalism, such as National Public Radio  or The Guardian.

• Use filters: More reputable websites will end in .org, .edu or .gov

• Be careful what you click on and by all means use spam filters and follow tips on how to help reduce spam in your e-mail.

• Go to STOP Unsolicited Phone Calls, Mail & E-mails for ways to eliminate unwanted calls, snail mail and e-mail. 

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