Social media use and paediatric practice: Hippocratic help, hype or harm?


Social media is increasingly a part of our personal and professional life and is here to stay. Here, I reflect on issues surrounding the use of social media (SMU) in the digital health context by clinicians in Australian paediatric health care. I aim to briefly highlight some inherent multifactorial and contextual ethical considerations which mainly relate to professionalism; including boundaries, obligations to patients and families within the therapeutic alliance, and balancing the help, hype and harm of SMU in clinical practice. I conclude that digital health and SMU are ubiquitous, and can be beneficial if used circumspectly with Hippocratic principles that have been updated for the modern era and are grounded in ancient moral codes. Unfettered SMU however, without adherence to ethical and legal guidelines is problematic, and may expose patients, families and clinicians to significant risk of harm and moral vulnerability. Justifiable, explicit, consistent and regularly reviewed boundaries, both professional and personal, are ethically advisable. These should reflect, and adapt to, the rapidly evolving nature of social media as imprudent digital health and SMU without proportionate limits, may undermine still relevant Hippocratic tenets, and the primacy of doing no harm.


developmental, education, ethics, general paediatrics

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