Social Media Safety

Social Media. What a big topic. There are so many different websites and apps you may use every day to communicate with you friends and family. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are just a few of the biggest ones. Did you know that the teenager spends an average of 9 hours on their phone and/or online on their computer? Think about it. When you wake up, what is the first thing you look at? When you are riding to school, what are you doing? When you walk between classes or are waiting for a ride home… When you’re bored or even right before bed… what is the very last thing you do for the day? You most likely check your phone. Social media is a huge influence on your daily life and as such, it is important we talk about it here and that you are safe in how you use it.

What do you think about before you make a post on social media?
Do you think about the content in your pictures? Or who can see them? Even if you have a harmless photo you want to post, do you think about how your location is being shared with everyone that sees it? Turn off those location services. If you are being followed on Instagram by a stranger, sharing your location can be dangerous. Even the background in your photo can give your location away.

Do you think it is okay to post suggestive pictures or videos on social media? Or to send to people through email or text message?
No! This is not okay. This is truly dangerous. There is never a way to keep your photos or posts completely private. Anyone that sees your photo can easily share it with others. Sharing “sexy” or “nude” photos while underage actually qualifies as child pornography. Posting or sharing photos (even if they are of someone else) can lead to child pornography charges, jail time, or you may have to register as a sex offender!

Social Media Safety Tips:

  • Check your default settings – Most apps will default to the most public exposure. Some apps can share your location with your friends without you knowing. This becomes especially dangerous when you friend people you do not actually know, a setup for predators and stalkers. (ie. Snapchat)
  • Do NOT share your passwords
  • Friend only those you know – Strangers can see everything. Even the backgrounds in your photos can give away your location.
  • Never post personal information – Such as phone number or address. If you need to share this information with a friend, do so in a private message or phone call.
  • THINK before you post – Think many times about what you are going to post! Why are you posting it? What is it of? Would you be concerned if your parents, family or teachers saw this photo or post?
  • Avoid using location services
  • Don’t agree to meet someone in person that you met online
  • Posting, sending, or forwarding suggestive photos can get you in trouble with the law, a serious crime

Below are some video links to teenagers own stories about social media safety:

http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/InformationTravels
http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/SurvivorDiaries

Social Media – How Does it Make You Feel?

Do you think about how your words might affect those around you? What about your posts? Do you think about the content in your pictures? Your posts on social media can cause others to feel left out, feel jealousy, or even be hurt by actions and words you share on the internet. Most likely, you have felt the same way due to another person’s posts. There are numerous studies showing that the time teenagers spend on social media correlates with increasing rates of depression, low self-esteem, and stress.

What do you typically see on Facebook or Instagram? Is what your friends post real? Is what you post real? Do you ever take 20 photos of the same thing and go through each photo trying to find the perfect shot? Most often what you see scrolling through your newsfeed is edited reality. These posts have been shaped to look like the best times of someone’s daily life. People are much less likely to share about their hard days and struggles. Seeing these glamorous photos of shopping trips, new clothes, amazing vacations, and awesome parties makes you wonder, “Why don’t I get to do those things?” “Why was I not invited to those parties?” “Am I not good enough?” “Why don’t I look like that?” You must remember, these posts are not reality.

Below are some great articles, that while they are directed more toward parents, have some great insight from teenagers and how they have felt dealing with the influence social media has on their life.

The Dove Social Media Project – click this link

Social Media and Self Doubt – click this link

How Does Social Media Affect Teens? – click this link
An article written by a teen with an interest in learning how social media is affecting the daily life of teenagers around the world – A really interesting read!

A Challenge for our Readers:

 

  • No phone or social media for 1 to 2 hours a day. Do something else you enjoy such as sports, listening to music, crafting, or another hobby.
  • Write about how this makes you feel!

 

Explore life outside of the likes, emojis, and the internet. Learn to love yourself for who you are. You do not need approval of instagram, facebook, etc, to see how amazing you are. Spend time with yourself to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, what makes you unique, and what you enjoy doing. Spend time with family without electronics and just enjoy each others company!

 

**If you are struggling with strong feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or depression, please reach out to someone. You can talk with your parents, a school counselor, a teacher, or even your doctor. The effect social media can have on your mood is very real. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.