In this time of social-distancing, social media is proving to be a critical tool to keep us connected to friends and family. Zoom, Facetime, and running the batteries out on my AirPods while talking on the phone have become regular staples of my day. Seeing posts and messages from friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is generally positive too! Although social media serves us in a lot of new and exciting ways, check out the 5 rules for social media below:
Remember that what people post is only a sliver of their actual life (The sliver they chose to show everyone!).
- People post mostly positive things online. In person however, people usually more willing to be honest with each other. Vulnerability is far more easy face-to-face. In that moment we are struggling and faced with all of the curated images we see online, we are unlikely to remember that everybody else has struggles too.
Keep your profiles private and only add people who you actually know in the real world.
- Making connections is the point of social networking sites; however, we should always be careful with our personal information. People can use the information we post online to gain access to other parts of our lives, like our emails, our location, and our schedules. Keeping your profile private and being conscious about the things you decide to share will keep you safe online, and in the real world. Colleges, employers, and future dating partners are all likely to “stalk” you online before determining if you may be the right candidate for admissions, jobs, and first dates.
Limit the amount of time you spend online.
- When we are online we are NOT doing a number of the productive things that we could be doing. Scrolling through Instagram and watching endless YouTube videos is an efficient way to gobble up time. Many times, I look down at my phone, and BOOM, two hours has gone by and I don’t even remember what I was doing. And I sure don’t feel better! But, when I compare that to reading a book, having a conversation with a friend, or doing a bit of work around the house it becomes immediately apparent which activity brings me more satisfaction. Think for a moment about what the sites you are using are designed for: to keep your attention. Youtube is designed to keep you clicking. Advertisers pay more money if you are more engaged. Remember, your attention is what they are after, and it one of the most valuable things you have to give.
Be aware that we often feel less inhibition online.
- That means it is easy to say things online that we might not say if we were in person. Online inhibition is one of the factors that contributes to cyber-bullying and it is also one of the factors that contributes to “The Comments Section” of just about every post being a very nasty place to try and engage with people. So, before you post something that you may regret, try to think about making that comment to someone who you were talking to over a cup of coffee.
Keep your phone usage out of the bedroom, and resist using your phone while you are trying to fall asleep.
- Unfortunately, we all use our phone as an alarm clock–and that is not likely to change. We may also adhere to the idea that, in this age of constant connection, if we are disconnected, even for a small amount of time, that our friends and loved ones may need us and not be able to connect with us. Our friend may have a crisis at midnight, and if we do not keep our ringer on, we might miss her in a moment of need. Teens are reporting at higher rates that these are the kinds of thoughts that are keeping them tethered to their phones, even while they should be sleeping, in class, or at sports. Even when young people are with their friends, they are monitoring their friends who are not present with them. Set boundaries with your phone and your friends so that you can be present in your relationships, and you can get a decent night of rest.
We talked about 5 rules for social media usage but there are many more. Show people kindness and remember that while social media is a nice tool, it is no substitute for high quality relationships.