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Social media health myths are destroying the lives of teenage girls – Coda Story

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Ronja Holopainen didn’t mean to fall down the rabbit hole. But, like so many things online, it just happened. One day last spring, the 21-year-old medical student was scrolling through Instagram when she stumbled into the strange world of period misinformation.

Her journey started simply enough. Searching Instagram using the hashtags “period” and “menstruation,” she quickly came across a deluge of posts promoting unsubstantiated ideas, such as girls being able to regulate or predict periods based on their astrological signs. Visiting the accounts responsible for them appeared to populate her feed with even more falsehoods. 

“When you get to one page, you start scrolling to the next and the next, and end up somewhere on the deep web,” she said.

The volume of distortions and inaccuracies shook Holopainen. So, she decided to meet them head-on. She was well-positioned to do so. For the past seven years, she has campaigned with the global girls’ rights organization Plan International. Bringing her experience of medicine and advocacy together, she set up an Instagram page — theperiodmove — to help girls climb out of the morass of pseudoscience that many of them have unwittingly stumbled into. 

On May 1, she published her first post: a soft pink grid detailing how misinformation seeps into discussions about menstruation. “Due to the taboo nature of periods, a lot of mis- and disinformation is being spread,” she wrote. “This may cause false and even dangerous beliefs.”

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Ronja Holopainen, a 21-year-old medical student, launched the “theperiodmove” Instagram page in May to combat period myths and disinformation

It’s no secret that our digital spaces are rife with conspiracy theories and fake news. But new research from Plan International suggests that disinformation is taking a severe toll on young women and girls, exposing them to ideas that are dangerous to their physical wellbeing, eroding their trust in democratic processes and negatively affecting their mental health. The report comes amid increased scrutiny of social media’s influence on adolescents, following a series of damning allegations from a Facebook whistleblower about Instagram’s “toxic” impact on teenage girls, including exacerbating disordered eating and suicidal ideation.

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Plan International’s study surveyed more than 26,000 girls across 26 countries about their exposure to disinformation and found significant numbers are harmed by online myths. In the United States, 80% of young women said misinformation has had a negative impact on their lives, while Brazil and the Philippines reported 91% and 95%, respectively. One-third reported that it has damaged their mental health, making them more stressed and anxious, and 20% said their faith in election results has been compromised.

The report also clearly showed that digital disinformation can affect the decisions that girls make about their physical health. For instance, a quarter of young women questioned whether to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Like Holopainen, they also have also been confronted by a significant amount of erroneous health misinformation — one, in Brazil, recalled coming across a post suggesting that tampons cause cancer.

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The flood of reproductive health-related misinformation has introduced Generation Z to a new variety of influencer: physicians debunking online misinformation about sexually transmitted diseases, fertility, the human papillomavirus vaccine, birth control and other reproductive health issues in snappy, bite-sized videos on TikTok and Instagram. But, for most doctors, myth-busting often takes place when they meet patients.

U.S.-based medical practitioners Trish Hutchison and Melisa Holmes routinely field an array of social media-driven questions on topics ranging from coronavirus vaccines to infertility. Hutchison, a physician who works at the College of Charleston in South Carolina,, and Holmes, an obstetrician-gynecologist in the state, also run an online sexual education hub for parents and teens called Girlology. This work has allowed them to see that what young women see on screen often migrates directly into their real-life choices and beliefs.

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Falsehoods about menstrual products — such as the myth that non-organic tampons leak chemicals into girls’ bodies — are widespread. However, the most common lies that they find themselves patiently refuting are that the birth control pill causes infertility or that women need to periodically take a break from using contraception to “cleanse” their bodies. “The only thing that happens when you take a break from birth control is that you have an unintended pregnancy,” Holmes says. 

They also routinely confront misconceptions about feminine hygiene, largely propagated by online vendors of pseudoscientific products claiming to promote vaginal cleanliness. “Self-treating vaginas is huge on Instagram,” Hutchison told me. “I pulled a sprig of lavender out of a vagina a couple of weeks ago, because TikTok talks about how to clean yourself. Don’t do that.”

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Some social media channels lay heavy emphasis on self-treatment and diagnosis, leading them to delay visiting a doctor until their conditions are more advanced than they need to be. Holmes pointed to a patient who developed a kidney infection after attempting to self-treat a urinary tract infection with cranberry juice, or young women who gave themselves skin conditions after using DIY remedies to treat what they wrongly believed were yeast infections.

“There’s so much self-treatment that’s happening based on Dr. Google that people are later getting health care from a trusted and licensed provider,” Holmes said. “Someone may think they think they have a yeast infection and it’s not getting better and they’ve looked online. They come in finally and they’ve got raging herpes infection, and they didn’t recognize what it was. We are definitely seeing more misinformation and it’s impacting people in bigger ways than it used to.”

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

See also  5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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