Pregnant women are at risk… From the internet.
New research has found ‘information overload’ is causing pregnant women to forget the basics.
Between mummy bloggers, health websites and baby and toddler e-magazines, all the noise around pregnancy – prohibiting everything from soft cheese to bean sprouts, stressing women on the exact dangers of being stressed, and touting the benefits of classical music on the intellect of the future bub – has has left mums-to-be reeling.
The consequence? Women are forgetting the basics. Almost 80% of women drink while pregnant, and 30% continue smoking.
“There are more rules and regulations and more recommendations than women have ever had before,” Deborah Loxton, deputy director of Australian Longitudinal Study, which examined 58,000 women across four age groups, told 10 News. “There’s nothing there that communicates what is the most important thing to do.”
Pregnant women aren’t the only ones affected.
You want to know the answer to a problem. Maybe you’re researching an article, or feeling unwell, maybe you need to know the best way to travel from one place to another… Whatever it is, your eyes are Google.
Until you see an article about the most frequently used slang terms for milk (how many could there possibly be? You need to know this, the bus timetables can wait).
Or until you become overwhelmed by the ridiculous number of resources with information on the topic ‘information overload’.
Or until you close the laptop in sheer terror, convinced your stomach ache is actually a case of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Here are some quick stats:
- We (the average internet users) receive around 63,000 words of new information, each day.
- We check around 40 websites a day.
- We switch programs 36 times an hour – or change tasks more than once every two minutes.
The internet presents us with an entire universe of information. Obviously there are benefits to this; it means we’re more connected, informed, empowered than ever before. But it also changes the way we behave or, in some cases, don’t behave.
There are two ways this might occur:
In one instance, we become arrogant in the amount of information we have at our disposal, that we stop asking ourselves questions (“I’ll just Google it”); fail to seek out help; or become convinced of truths that are 100% wrong (anti-vaccination forums, anyone?).
Alternatively, we become stunned into inaction or ignorance because of the amount and diversity of information we are confronted with. Pregnant women are case in point.
Just like too many pregnancy blogs are causing the complete opposite behaviour of what they’re designed to promote, there are several other areas seeing the exact same phenomena.
Health websites should help educate, inform, reassure and prevent. Except, when your faced with a million sites telling you that rash could be anything from rosacea to meningitis, you’re not learning anything and you’re definitely not helping your health.
This swarm of information – alongside various apps that will scan your sun spots for abnormalities, or take your temperature through your iPhone – might leave you feeling confident that the rash is no big deal. Because of this, you won’t seek treatment… but you’ll probably use a balm of avocado flesh to sooth your itching skin because that wholesome health blogger said it’s “life changing”.
Alternatively, the exorbitant amount of rash-causing possibilities will leave you petrified, with a case of anxiety alongside the rash. Cyberchondria is a term used to describe this anxiety, and research has shown it’s no small matter:
“The Web has the potential to increase the anxieties of people who have little or no medical training, especially when Web search is employed as a diagnostic procedure,” a 2008 study by Ryen White and Eric Horvitz states. “Our results show that Web search engines have the potential to escalate medical concerns.”