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Am I addicted to my phone?

With Dr Megan Lim

Season 3 - Episode 2

31 Aug 2021
Podcast 32:05

How can we best use technology without being absorbed by it?

In this episode, we talk with Dr Megan Lim to discuss the benefits and impacts of technology on our health, as well as some practical tips on what balancing screen time actually looks like.

  • Transcript

    A quick note: Hey listeners, just a quick note on today’s episode – this interview was recorded prior to the current Victorian Coronavirus outbreak, in line with COVID health regulations.

    VicHealth ad: This series is produced by the folks at VicHealth, Victoria's health promotion agency.

    Dr Megan: Different generations tend to have different expectations of how much time you spend on your phone.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah, that's so true.

    Dr Megan: So, yeah, I wouldn't if you know, if your dad tells you that you're using too much social media, you don't necessarily have to believe that. If my dad is listening...

    Dr Sandro: I was about to say, if my dad's listening, you know that you use your phone just as much as I do!

    Dr Megan: Yep!

    Dr Sandro: Hello and a big welcome to In Good Health. I'm your host, Dr. Sandro Demaio. I'm a medical doctor, public health expert and foodie. Our special guest today is Dr. Megan Lim. Megan holds a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash University and completed her Ph.D. there.

    Dr Sandro: Megan is the deputy program director at Burnett Institute and has published more than 100 papers. Her primary area of expertise is investigating the role of new communication technologies in public health. In this episode, we'll call Megan to chat about how we can best use these technologies without being absorbed by them. The impacts of technology on our health, what balancing screen time actually means and ways to support each other in this journey.

    Dr Sandro: We're today talking about a pervasive addiction, one that I have to admit, I think I have. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know I have.

    Dr Sandro: But it's so widespread that, in fact, since I started supplying my grandma a few years ago with this, I think she's become an addict, too. In fact, so much so that we renamed her ‘Instagran’. She's the only 98-year-old that I know that's on Instagram.

    Dr Sandro: But she swipes. She's a serious swiper. I am of course, talking not about anything too elicit. I'm talking about our phones and social media. And I'm joined by Dr. Megan Lim, who's an expert in this space. So, Megan, when we, we often talk about phones and addition. Is that actually the right term? Are we addicted? Is there a problem here?

    Dr Megan: Hi, Sandro. Yeah, I guess I don't really like to use the word addicted, because addiction has kind of a specific clinical meaning and definition. But we can kind of talk about where the use is problematic, so if you’re using too much and it then becomes problematic.

    Dr Megan: I think ways you can kind of judge that is whether you feel like you spend too much time on your phone. So just judging it yourself. And if it's kind of interfering with your life, or your work, or your sleep or your relationships. And if you keep using it, despite it making you feel kind of anxious or upset.

    Dr Sandro: Well, so based on that, I feel like about 99 per cent of people would be addicted and 1% of people would be lying. Is that a fair assessment or what sort of numbers of people would you say are addicted in Australia?

    Dr Megan: Well, we asked young people in a survey whether they thought they were using their phones too much and three quarters said that they did feel like they used it too much.

    Dr Sandro: And what age group is that?

    Dr Megan: That was among young people, 15 to 29 in Australia.

    Dr Sandro: And this would have exploded, I would imagine, in the last couple of decades. You know, what sort of increases have we seen in terms of, you know, phone usage?

    Dr Megan: Well, I know even just during COVID, there's been an increase, so 80% of people in our survey said that they were using their phone and social media more this year than they were before COVID started.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah. And I suppose that makes sense. I mean, you know, we went home and our lives became hyper local. And we’re looking for ways to stay connected with the world. And in many ways, I mean, my phone kind of was. You know, it was a part of getting through lockdowns I mean, you know, having that little window, the little eight-inch window whatever it is, to the world, and being able to know what's going on and get updates on the news. I mean, there are some good sides to being so connected to the world, aren't there?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, definitely. And I think COVID really showed that even though technology isn't a substitute for real human interaction, it's a hell of a lot better than nothing. You know, it would have been really difficult getting through the past year or 2 without having some kind of social connection.

    Dr Megan: But I think also during COVID part of the issue was the sort of obsession with the news and following the news cycle and constantly wanting updates on the latest numbers and, you know, the latest restrictions. Everyone was really checking in very regularly on that sort of stuff.

    Dr Sandro: How do you, you're saying before, you know, there are some ways that you can maybe, start to think about whether you're using the phone too much or not. I mean, did we see, do you think we saw an increase of people, you know, overusing their phone?

    Dr Sandro: I think it became a big conversation in the last 12 months with a greater reliance on our phones, but also greater negativity and an almost kind of angst. I mean, there's been so much, you know, increase in kind of people, people talking about trolling and talking about negative backlash and talking about, you know, really divisive discussions online. Do you think that, you know, are these new issues or are these problems that have just got worse over the last 12 months or maybe that we're just noticing for the first time?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I guess part of the answer to that is, it might have felt like we were using our phones more, because we spent so much of our time on technology, whereas instead of you know being in face-to-face meetings at work or taking classes at school, we were just on the computer or on the phone for that.

    Dr Megan: So, when you combine that with also socialising via technology, it really added a lot in terms of, the divisive sort of arguments on social media. I think, you know, that's always what's been building for quite a while. And I think just the fact that COVID was an issue that everyone cared about, that probably made it a bit more widespread. Because, you know, everyone had an opinion on COVID and everyone wanted to engage in the debates and was affected by the issue.

    Dr Sandro: In terms of what you were saying before, you know, a bit of a check of your own usage and looking for some warning signs. So, I often worry that I use my phone too much. And once a week Apple kindly reminds me of the horrifying amount of time I spend on my phone each week.

    Dr Sandro: And it fluctuates. Sometimes it jumps and I'm like, oh, gosh, what have I done? And then other times I'm down by 18 per cent and I feel really good about myself. Is there a number that's like a good amount of time or a bad amount of time, or is it more about the effects that it's having, you know, on you and on your life?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, no, there isn't really a specific number, and I guess the issue with using your phone and social media and tech, there's kind of 2 ways of looking at the impact. There’s like just the amount spent in total. And, you know, the issue with that, of course, is the sort of sedentary time, whether it's watching TV or just sitting with your phone or working on a computer or not moving. But then, yeah, there's the impacts from the actual type of content that you're accessing.

    Dr Megan: So, there's no specific like cut off amount of time that's good or bad, but just kind of whether it's affecting you and stopping you from doing other things in your life.

    Dr Sandro: And so, what sort of effects might it have that should be a warning sign for us as individuals or, you know, for loved ones or whatever. Like how can we tell if we're on our phones too much?

    Dr Megan: I guess just if you think it's stopping you from doing things like falling asleep. Yeah. If it's, you know, keeping you up at night, if you're supposed to be working or doing something important and you can't stop looking at your phone. If you’re supposed to be eating dinner with your family...

    Dr Sandro: Oh, boy...

    Dr Megan: Yeah. And like we all do that somewhat, of course. But yeah, I think, often a sign is that other people notice it and complain about it, I guess.

    Dr Sandro: So, you talked about a couple of things that it might start to affect. But I really like the idea of rather than having a number, although a number is kind of helpful maybe to track it between weeks, acknowledging that you use your phone for lots of different things. So, you might use it for staying in touch with friends during lockdown. You might use it for work. You might use it for finding your way to, I mean, I can't drive anywhere now without Google Maps. I'm not sure when that happened, but it's certainly the case.

    Dr Sandro: But then there are obviously lots of other things that are less healthy maybe, and send your blood pressure up like social media at certain times. So, more thinking about how does it affect you and what does it stop you from doing, rather than the absolute time that you're spending.

    Dr Sandro: So, if it's stopping you from spending time with loved ones, doing the hobbies you enjoy. You know, tell me about sort of the effects that has on your interpersonal connections and relationships.

    Dr Megan: Yeah, well, I guess, you know, if you're not paying attention to the people in your life, that's not really a good thing. But of course, it's really important to state that a lot of the friends you do have can be on your phone, too, and they're also important friends.

    Dr Megan: And just because they're not like, you know, you might have friends who you only know through social media or digitally and they're still real friends or at least they can be. Wouldn't want to suggest that they're not a real social connection because they can be extremely important social connections, particularly for groups like minority groups or marginalized groups.

    Dr Megan: Yeah. Or even for specific hobbies, you know, you can find it through social media. You can find people who are just like you in a way that we never could before. So, it's a huge boost for social wellbeing in that way as well.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah. It's so hard because on one hand, like I know that my phone listens. Well, I think my phone listens to me. Is that right? Yeah. You're nodding. Oh, now you're looking nervous. It's OK. Google won’t know that you said that.

    Dr Sandro: So, on one hand, you know that your phone is kind of listening to you and watching what you do. And then, you know, I'll talk about something over dinner. And then later that night, suddenly there are adverts for that very thing on my phone.

    Dr Sandro: Like, it's you know; we almost live in an Orwellian kind of novel. But at the same time, as you say, there are so many benefits of social media. I can stay in touch with people that I've met backpacking 10 years ago on Facebook or on Instagram and track their lives.

    Dr Sandro: And you almost when you catch up, I find when I catch up with friends, you know, that I haven't seen for a couple of years, it's like, oh, yeah, I saw that. I saw that you had a baby, and you got married and you moved house all through Instagram, kind of passively. But you feel like you've kind of been part of their lives in a way.

    Dr Sandro: As a public health expert, like what's the balance? You know, do you think that, overall, the negatives outweigh the positives for, let's start at a population level. Do you think that the problems that social media is causing from a health perspective, do you think that the benefits outweigh the risks? And how do you kind of navigate that as an individual, you know, for your own health?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, that's a really good question, and I feel like I've probably changed my answer back and forth fairly regularly, like I feel like it's kind of borderline, but I do think at the moment I'm leaning toward it's good for your health.

    Dr Megan: It's better than not having it, particularly during COVID. I can't imagine how we would have gotten through this without social media. Yeah, there's so many benefits to it. But I think it's all... I suppose it's a question of moderation, really, like most things. If you use it well and in moderation, then it's a really positive thing.

    Dr Sandro: All right. So, moderation is the classic, you know, conundrum that doctors like us give to people. How do you do that in practice? What does it look like? I mean, how do I use my phone in moderation? I mean, I have four screens staring at me right now. I mean, how do you practically do that? Because it is our work, our lives. Everything is on our phones. It's so easy to get to the end of the day and suddenly see that little message that you've spent 8 and a half hours somehow attached to this screen. What are the steps you take to reduce your screen time?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I think there's quite a few things you can do. So, I guess firstly, noticing which apps are problematic, like if there's apps that you particularly spend a lot of mindless time scrolling through and you don't want to spend so much time on them, like to me, that’s Facebook definitely. You know, you can put a time limit through the app on your phone so that you can't spend more than, say, half an hour a day on Facebook. Or at least, if you do want to it comes up with a message that says, ‘do you really want to add another 5 minutes?’. And you can also turn off notifications which is a really good thing.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah, that's a really good one.

    Dr Megan: So, yeah, it's not saying, hey, look at Facebook, look at Facebook. It's only when you choose to look at it. And yep, even putting it on silent or putting it on airplane mode, as well as you having an overall screen time limit.

    Dr Megan: But also, I think probably the most important thing is to have times and places where you don't look at your phone or you don't have your phone with you, and usually leave it in another room. Particularly a good one, I guess, is when you’re sleeping, no phones in the bedroom can be a rule. No phones at dinner.

    Dr Sandro: Oh, wow. No, phone in the bedroom?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I know. That's one I haven't quite mastered yet, but it is good.

    Dr Sandro: But yeah, no phone at dinner, I think that's a really good one. But no, I mean no phone in the bedroom makes sense. I was just thinking the other day, I mean, imagine if you went back 15 years and you were like, there is going to be this thing in the future that is connected to like the world, and gives you constant information and you're going to like, have it next to your bed. And the last thing you do every night will be to look at this, this thing. And the first thing you’ll do when you wake up in the morning is look at this thing again.

    Dr Sandro: You’d think that I'm crazy for saying that. And now jump forward. I mean, it makes a lot of sense to not have it in the bedroom and definitely not having or, putting it away on airplane mode when you're having dinner. I think that's a really good tip as well.

    Dr Megan: Yeah. It's like special family time or prayer time or whatever it is that you do that is your special time. Yep. Just keep the phone away.

    Dr Sandro: One of the things that I did, which I found really helpful was to delete certain apps as well. So, yeah, they're really good. They're really good ideas, because I think it is hard to kind of self... you know, control how much time you spend.

    Dr Megan: I mean, the only time I've been without a phone was once I was going on an overseas holiday for a week, and I, my phone got stolen at the airport. So, I was away for a whole week without a phone, and it was quite scary.

    Dr Sandro: How did you go?

    Dr Megan: It was difficult, actually.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah. You kind of feel naked without a phone now, don't you? Like if you walk, if I walk out without a phone, there’s almost like a sense that I've left like a part of me behind. It's pretty concerning.

    Dr Megan: Yeah. I didn't even know the name of the hotel I was staying in.

    Dr Sandro: Oh, yeah. Well, that's true. And so much information is on there. I wonder if there's a word for feeling naked without a phone. I reckon there will be at some point, that'll be the German word of the year in a couple of years' time. We’ll come back to it in a future episode, when the Oxford Dictionary makes it the word of the year. We should, if a listener has an idea for what that word should be, let us let us know.

    Dr Sandro: Technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our school, work and private lives. In fact, a recent report published by Statista unveiled that as of July 2020, about 59 per cent of the global population or a whopping 4.57 billion people were active on the internet. In Australia, 89% of the population are active on the internet, with an average daily time of 6 hours and 13 minutes. In this new ultra-connected world, many of us feel we must stay plugged in.

    Dr Sandro: But when does technology cross the line of being a useful tool, to becoming a problematic addiction? Megan is here to help us answer this very question.

    Dr Sandro: I wanted to talk about screen time and psychological health, in a bit more detail if we can Megan. So, I know that if you're distracted more generally when you're having dinner, for example, if you're not present to the food that you're consuming. There is good evidence that you consume more, and you consume more quickly. So, you know, being distracted. Same reason why you can't use your phone and drive, like you can't safely do 2 things at once.

    Dr Sandro: What are the like, what are the psychological effects of overconsumption or of constant consumption of information? What is it doing to our mood and even to our brains?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I guess it's a question really of mindfulness, so we know how good mindfulness is for our health.

    Dr Sandro: And when you say mindfulness, like we throw that word around. But what does that mean?

    Dr Megan: Concentrating on the present moment, I suppose being aware of what's around you.

    Dr Sandro: So, like the opposite of when you're on your phone, basically.

    Dr Megan: Yeah, exactly. Well, there's a lot of health benefits to mindfulness and psychological benefits. And yeah, when you're using your phone, you're avoiding being mindful I suppose. So, there's times when we might have previously been mindful, you know, even just for a couple of minutes while you're waiting for the lift to come or whatever it is.

    Dr Megan: We now tend to pick up our phones even just for a minute. You know, if you're at a restaurant with a friend and they go to the bathroom, you look at your phone, you can't just like sit there and be on your own.

    Dr Sandro: Is that because you know, is it the psychological effect of not having what you see, like the kind of, the FOMO effect, or is it the fact that your brain is just constantly busy and actually never has a moment to rest?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I think it's just looking for a distraction rather than having to do the work of sitting with yourself and being on your own.

    Dr Sandro: It's I mean, I've never really thought about that before. So back in the day, as in approximately 7 or 8 years ago, we would have had micro moments or kind of even big moments across the day.

    Dr Sandro: Where you're sitting on the bus or you're waiting for the lift or, you know, your friends, as you say, your friends gone to the bathroom, and you just sit. And your brain just rests and you kind of reflect. What is the effect of not having those moments across the day, do we know?

    Dr Megan: I guess I don't know for sure what the effect of not having them is, but there's just so much evidence that practicing mindfulness, so taking the time to be aware of your surroundings and focus on yourself is positive in lots of ways for your health and your mental health.

    Dr Megan: Yeah. And I think the other thing is also, you know, we’re missing a lot of opportunities to just talk to random people around us too. You know, I don't know what people used to do on the bus or the train, maybe you spoke to the person next to you. But yeah, you would never do that now.

    Dr Sandro: No, and I have to say, I look forward to sitting next to you randomly on the bus one day Megan, and having you just strike up an organic conversation from nowhere. Those kind of micro moments in life that you miss because you are on your phone.

    Dr Sandro: And it's absolutely what you're saying. It's sort of these opportunities, but also the chance just to kind of let your brain rest. That is so critical to, I would imagine, your overall mental health.

    Dr Megan: Yeah. And like you said right, like falling asleep is a big thing as well. And it is hard to fall asleep when you've been just looking at your phone.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah. So, let's talk about sleep for a second. So, are you meant to, what is the best thing when it comes to sleep hygiene and your phone? So have it outside. Don't put it in the bedroom. That's a great tip.

    Dr Sandro: Is there a period beforehand that you shouldn't be using them? You know, we often even use our phone to like listen to the radio in the morning. I mean it's, there are so many reasons why we end up putting our phones, taking our phones to bed with us. But your advice is don't go to bed with your phone. What else around sleep and sleep hygiene would you recommend?

    Dr Megan: Well, yeah, you shouldn't be looking at your phone immediately before bed. Yeah. It isn’t a good way to wind down. I'm not sure exactly what the recommended gap is in terms of time.

    Dr Sandro: Why is it that you shouldn't be on your phone before bed?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I think I I'm not sure how effective those blue light filters are. I know the blue light isn't good. So, yeah, that may help. But yeah, it is also just the psychological arousal and stimulation from engaging with your phone and getting, like I'm sure you've had times where you’re like I'll just quickly have a look and see what the message is. And then it’s half an hour later and you still haven't gone to sleep.

    Dr Megan: But yes, in terms of obviously like the alarm and you know, if you're listening to a podcast to fall asleep or something like that, yeah you do kind of need your phone. But it's possible to get other devices to play things like an old radio or radio clock alarm. And you can also put your phone onto airplane mode at least so you don't have notifications popping up. It's like one more step between you and your apps.

    Dr Sandro: That's really good advice. So, if you use your phone as an alarm clock or you want to read the time or listen to a podcast, at least put it on airplane mode so that you don't get any notifications.

    Dr Sandro: The other topic I wanted to quickly touch on is the effect of social media on our relationships and more our kind of close personal, you know, partner type relationships. How do you know if your phone is a problem for you and your partner in terms of how much time you're spending? What are the issues or problems that can result, impacting on your relationships?

    Dr Megan: Again, I think it's just up to the 2 of you to make that judgment together. If you're both happy with the amount of time you're spending on your phones, then it's not a problem. If one of you is upset with how much the other one spends then yeah, I think it's like anything in a relationship, you kind of have to compromise and say what makes you both happy? There's no specific amount of time or guidance.

    Dr Sandro: I suppose as a first step, if you're asking the question, that's probably already a sign that maybe it's something to at least be cognisant of and be conscious of, the amount of time that you are spending on your phone around anyone, let alone your partner or your kids or, you know, someone really important to you.

    Dr Sandro: And I suppose what you're saying is, you know, is to have a conversation about it, is to be open about it and acknowledging that, you know, you both will be on your phones from time to time. Is it a good idea to kind of have ground rules or like blackout times? You know, no phone times?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I definitely think that having tech free time is a good thing. Whether that's just a 5-minute gap in your day or a whole day of the week or something. Yeah.

    Dr Sandro: Have you heard of people doing that, like Sundays without their phones? I have, I have heard of that.

    Dr Megan: Yeah, like I've got friends who are Jewish, for example, so they don't use their phones on the Sabbath. And yeah, they just find that to be a really calming day. They definitely see benefits. And because it's, I guess a rule they always stick to, that makes it easier for them.

    Dr Sandro: My partner and I, we implemented a no phones kind of between 6 and 8, but just making sure that you have that time in the evening where there's no distractions. And you know, if the phone goes off or an emergency happens, clearly, you know, it's not absolute. But trying to kind of put the phones away and just have that couple, have those couple of hours each evening where you are present.

    Dr Sandro: For me, it's really, it's really reminded me that you need to have that gap in your life. You need to have that silence, and particularly with your partner or your family, having the kind of, almost creating the space in your life to say, okay, in this time we're not going to have screens, whether it's Netflix or our phones, or whatever else. And that that actually creates the space for those organic conversations that otherwise there isn't as much space for.

    Dr Megan: And one also good thing about having a set time or day is that you can almost put on like an office reminder. And if everybody knows that you don't use your phone between 6 and 8, that means you won't be obligated to respond, because I think one reason why people do often feel obligated to check every single notification is because in terms of relationships, people get upset with you if you're not responding instantly.

    Dr Megan: People expect you to be available all the time. And whether that's your work, or your friends, or your partner or your family, that makes you need to check all the time.

    Dr Sandro: And I suppose, you know, when it comes to our phones, it's not just about, you know, the phone itself or even the app. But it's about the content in those apps that can often kind of spike our blood pressure or make us feel fairly terrible about ourselves.

    Dr Sandro: What are some tips that you have for people in terms of trying to curate content that is going to be better for their health?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I guess it's about choosing who is going to be providing good information, and good inspiration as well. Choosing people who have a positive message rather than being negative. It can be tempting to follow people that you disagree with just to kind of see what they're saying. But it does tend to make you angry.

    Dr Megan: Yeah, it's also really important to choose a diverse group of people to follow, so try not to just have like everyone who is the same as you. You know, make sure you're following some Indigenous people and some, you know, some older people, some younger people, men and women trying to curate positive content that is interesting, but is also useful.

    Dr Sandro: How do you, how do you balance that? As you know, even yourself as an expert, like you want to, you want to be exposed to people who challenge your viewpoints, not necessarily the facts, but like, you know, the opinions and things. How do you balance that as an individual?

    Dr Megan: Yeah, that's really hard because we do tend to also get sucked into a bit of a bubble with only seeing people that we agree with. And then, you know, when you read the comments, which they always tell you don't read the comments and it's pretty good advice.

    Dr Megan: You do sometimes get shocked at how strongly opinionated people are in complete disagreement to you. I guess yes, it is important to consider diverse viewpoints but, I don't think that angry comments on a news article are really reflecting diverse opinions. It's not the way that you would actually engage with them in real life, you know, in a shouting match.

    Dr Sandro: Like how do you balance, you know, not wanting to become ignorant to other opinions and ideas you know, and kind of blocking anyone who doesn't agree with you? But at the same time, I think there really is such an importance to like protect our mental health and not, you know, not jump on our screens, on the train, on the way home and have our blood pressure go through the roof, because we're so kind of irate at what individuals are saying.

    Dr Megan: So, yeah, I think that there's other ways to get more informed opinions that disagree with yours without getting sucked into the angry like, Twitter debates, yeah.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah, I think that's really good advice. And I think I think, you know, that's a nugget of gold to say, you know, be careful who you follow. And, you know, because that is, you are basically curating your online experience.

    Dr Sandro: And, yes, diversity is you know, it's critical to have diverse and conflicting viewpoints and challenge our own assumptions, but, you know, do it in a way that is also protective of your mental health.

    Dr Sandro: You've brought up a couple of really good kind of tech tips as well of, going on airplane mode when you don't want to use your phone. You can also put it on sleep mode like, and you can elect to do it for an hour or for an evening. You can, you know, turn off notifications or from specific apps only. And you can as we talked about delete apps.

    Dr Sandro: And I think you can actually, I didn't realise this until recently, but you can also do an auto reply on text messages so that, you know, just like on your phone, you can be kind of an out of the office reply on your, on your email.

    Dr Sandro: You can do the same with a text message, which means that a text message goes straight back saying, I'm out of the office, I'll get back to you when I can. And I think, some of those things which are kind of, you know, fairly techie, they can make it just that little bit more possible to kind of take a deep breath and be like, OK, the world knows I'm offline. I have you know, there's an email or a text message that's going back. And I'm going to switch off, you know, for a period, for an evening, for an hour, and just focus on where I am.

    VicHealth ad: This podcast is brought to you by the team at VicHealth, Victoria’s own Health Promotion Agency.

    Dr Sandro: So, Megan, I've got some really quick questions here. Catherine asks, I've started to notice myself becoming obsessive when checking for health updates. I think COVID related, oh yeah, especially when there's a COVID outbreak. It's making me quite anxious, but I don't want to miss important information. How do I balance this for my mental health? Wow, that’s a really good question.

    Dr Megan: Yeah, that is a really good question, because I found myself doing the same thing, I think... Yeah, I think, you can see if you've got friends who can do the updates for you. You know, that's what I said, like I can't watch the press conference today, somebody just send me the highlights.

    Dr Sandro: And I think the, some of the media outlets have started doing like kind of line by line, sort of a summary, which I found really helpful. Or if you follow a couple of people on Twitter that you, that are not too sensationalist, you know, going and having a look half an hour or an hour later, and you kind of see the tweet, tweet headlines of what's occurred.

    Dr Megan: Yeah, I think one of the problems as well with that was there's a lot of worry about what is going to be said. And, you know, in all of your, with all your friends you’re discussing, what do you think they're going to say at the press conference, all of that sort of stuff, which doesn't really help.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah, that's true. Last question. Are there certain social media platforms that are better than others to be spending time on? That's Luca.

    Dr Megan: No, I don't think so, I think because you curate the content yourself. It's more about who you choose to follow than the platforms themselves. If you're following people who are very negative or sharing false information or who are one area that I do research in is ‘fitspo’. So, like ‘fitspiration’. If you're following a lot of that sort of stuff, that's really appearance based and very superficial. That can have a negative impact on your mental health and your body image as well. So, it's more about choosing who to follow.

    Dr Sandro: Yeah, that's great advice.

    Dr Sandro: Thanks for listening to the In Good Health podcast. To find out more about the work that we do, head over to our website Oh, and make sure you check us out on social media under @VicHealth.

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.