Be social media savvy

                                                              Image Animated Heaven on Flickr

Social media offers a series of advantages and benefits to children, as long as they are not used excessively and when online interactions with friends are just an extension of real-life relationships and do not replace them.

However, social media can sometimes be a trap; if children are not careful, they can find themselves in some unpleasant, embarrassing, or stressful situations.   

Here are some tips for young people who are very active on social media to keep in mind when logging in:

Tip 1: It’s ok to say no. You feel pretty great when someone wants to be your friend or follower on social media. But that is not enough for you to accept. If you don’t know each other in real life, think twice if that person deserves to have access to certain thoughts or information on your page. Make sure they are who they say they are, make a video call or ask for a photo with details that can show you they are trustworthy. Always meet in public places. Be carefull at fake accounts ( with no photos, very few friends or too many)

Tip 2: Avoid posting something when you are angry! When we are angry, we react quickly and say things that we do not believe, and that can negatively affect a relationship in the long term. Before you post or press the “Send” button,

step away from the screen and calm down. Then, look over what you wrote again. You will definitely be glad that you thought twice before acting.

Tip 3: Don’t behave differently than you would in reality. A phone or a screen gives you a false sense of protection and sometimes makes you forget that you can really affect other people by what you write or do in a virtual space. Before you post, ask yourself: Would I do or say this if the person were in front of me? If the answer is no, then stop yourself. Also, remember that once you send something, you lose control over that information, and it can reach anyone.

Tip 4: Be careful what you share. It can be fun to share pictures of you and your friends having fun. And it is normal that the most scandalous ones attract more likes. However, it is good to know that anyone who has seen those pictures can save them and share them with other people. What you posted is well-posted, and once it spreads, it cannot be taken back. Before you send something, ask yourself: Would I want my parents, teachers, or future boss to see this? If the answer is no, keep your memories to yourself.

Tip 5: Privacy settings. Social media platforms have privacy settings, so you can control who and what they see. Read these settings carefully and make sure they match what you want.

Tip 6: Stay away from unpleasant situations. There are several options when someone posts a mean comment about you. You can report it as online abuse, delete it from the page or delete your tag. If it is a picture, you can delete your tag and ask the person who posted it to delete the image. Also, remember that if you respond and interact with a “virtual bully”, even if it seems tempting, this can make the situation worse. If you wish for the bully to be held accountable, keep screenshots of what was said and contact the owner of the page/space or an authority (administrator, moderator, adult in your presence) to seek support and advice on how to limit the harm that bully could cause to others as well (by having them banned from the space or suspend their account per example). Great tip: take a vacation from social media!

Tip 7: Say what you think. If you or someone you know is affected by online bullying, talk about it. Tell a parent or a teacher and look for the right help together (an administrator or moderator of that social media space, or file a report to the media itself ). This type of bullying (cyberbullying) affects each person differently and can have long-term consequences, which are sometimes irreversible.

Tip 8: Be a role model. Make sure that you participate in online activities in a healthy way and that you share positive and nice things with those around you.

Tip 9: Think before you post. Give yourself a moment to think before you comment or  post an opinion about something/ someone. If you have doubts that something could be perceived wrongly, do not share/send it.

Tip 10: Share things that make you happy and that make you feel good. It might make someone else happy too, not just you!

Technology is a great way to keep in touch with those around you, but everything comes with a price. The above tips will reduce the risks and make you happy both in the virtual space and in the real world.