Social media is a great tool that helps us see what our friends are up to and keep up to date on things we like, however social media can be a dangerous thing if we are not careful. I spend a lot of time on and studying social media and have compiled some tips to keep social media fun. 

You can’t hide behind an avatar:

There are lots of different social platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and TikTok to name a few, each platform has its format and social culture. One of the big differences in some of these platforms is the illusion of anonymity. Part of that anonymity comes from who you are associated with.

On Facebook for example, often your friends are your close friends, colleagues, and relatives, and there are spaces for you to post your hometown, where you went to school, and where you work. It feels very personal and everyone in your life who follows you sees what you post and comment.

On Reddit however, people rarely post photos of themselves or have their name anywhere on their account. It’s usual for a person to not interact with anyone in their real-life (IRL) on Reddit. It feels like no one will know who you are. That attitude of your account not being linked to your IRL affects what you post. We’ve all heard of posts on social media coming back to bite someone in the butt later in life and usually a photo of them doing something inappropriate or illegal. Just because you feel anonymous doesn’t mean you are, what you post and comment can always be traced back to you, so don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want people IRL to see.

Make your following list exclusive:

Typically the people we want to follow on social media are people that we know IRL and being able to make sure that you know the people who follow you are important to make sure you don’t have to interact with people you don’t like. The first step is to make your accounts private, doing this stops people who don’t follow you from seeing what you post and allows you to choose who follows you. When you’re in private, people will send you a friend/follow request that you can go through and either accept or decline. A good way to figure out if you know them or not is to see if they have friends in common with you, on most social media platforms when you go to someone’s account it will show how many (if any) friends in common, that can help you decide if you want them to follow you. 

Keep what’s personal, personal:

You’ve probably heard someone say “don’t give out your personal information online” but what does that mean? We want people in our lives to be able to friend us online but how do you do that without giving out information?  Well, some information that is usually safe to be public is things like your name, what high school or college you went to, what town you live in if you’re part of a specific sports team or club. Where I draw the line of what is personal is anything very specific to me like my address, school schedule, phone number, credit card number, license number, etc. Anything that someone would use to hack an account of mine or find me IRL. 

There are lots of other things that go into social media safety, however, these are the most common ones. Social media is supposed to be fun and staying safe is step one to having a fun time online!

Fern Johnson
Author: Fern Johnson

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