How to Use Social Media Responsibly
Last updated August 17, 2023
Social media is a powerful tool to connect with others, learn new things, expand your perspectives and explore your own identity. But with great power comes great responsibility, and if not used in intentional ways, you’ll quickly find many disadvantages - and potential consequences. So before you hit that "post" button, keep reading to learn more about what you can do to use social media responsibly!
Think Twice Before Posting
If you’re applying to college or looking for a job, you might wonder if colleges and employers actually check your social media accounts. The answer is generally yes, or at least they have the option to do so.
Some colleges do check social media profiles, especially when they're considering you for scholarships or to get a better sense of who you are as a person. Similarly, employers for the jobs you're applying to might also want to learn more about you by looking at your online presence. It’s safe to assume that any picture, video, or tweet that you post will be seen by admissions officers at your dream college, or hiring managers at your dream job or internship. You wouldn’t want to post anything online that might paint you in a bad light!
Remember - Nothing is Private Online
In addition to being careful what you post, it’s important to know that the internet is not as anonymous as you might think. Depending on what you share and where you share it online it can risk jeopardizing your personal information and make it public.
Once something is posted online, it can be difficult to completely erase it, even if you delete it. The post might still be somewhere else, or someone can take a screenshot of it, so your privacy isn’t always guaranteed. To protect yourself, be careful about accepting friend or follower requests from people you don’t know, and try not to share too many personal details. For example, you wouldn’t want to post a TikTok video with your school uniform on, or post to your Instagram stories showing the front of your house. You’d be amazed to see how much strangers can find out about a person based only on a few details shared online.
It’s also important to understand digital security and common online threats to help protect you and keep yourself safe online. Your data is valuable, and social media platforms handle it differently. Stay informed about how your information (like your last name, birth date, location, etc.) is used, and think twice before sharing anything sensitive.
Be in Control of the Content on Your Feed
While it’s crucial to be careful about what you share online, it's equally important to think about how the content you follow affects your mental health and well-being. For example, take a few minutes to go through your Youtube subscriptions or your TikTok “For You” feed, to see how they make you feel and what impact they have on you. If there are accounts that spread false news, bully others, make you feel bad about yourself, or are trying to sell you something you don’t want, don’t be afraid to hit the unfollow or block button. Social media is for staying informed, exploring your interests, and connecting with others, so stick to accounts that bring you joy and add value to your life!
Use Social Media for Good
Using social media comes with risks and consequences, but it can also be a powerful tool for good. There are positive ways to use social media, like raising awareness for causes you care about, sharing resources to help others, and staying connected to local politics and important issues. Many activism efforts have started and gained momentum online and through social media platforms, showing how powerful these platforms can be in bringing positive change to the world.
Social media can also be your platform to build a strong online image that reflects who you are. Think of your social media accounts as your personal “brand”, and how you can use that brand to make a positive impact on potential college admissions or employers. For example, you can showcase your achievements, volunteering experiences, and professional interests, and present yourself as a well-rounded, accomplished individual.
Know When to Take Breaks From Social Media
Do you find yourself endlessly scrolling through your social media feed? Do you notice feelings of anxiety, constant comparison, or a drop in productivity after being on social media? If so, it might be a sign that you need a social media break. These breaks can be great for your mental health, giving your mind a chance to rest and reset. You can store your phone in a different room when it's time to sleep, allowing you to get better rest, or logging off social media during class or when you have to study or do homework. If you find it difficult to stay offline, consider setting time limits on particular apps or using website blockers to help reduce your screen time. You can also engage in offline activities, like finding a hobby or doing something creative with your friends or family. Taking these steps can help you find a healthier balance with technology and improve your overall well-being.
Social media is part of our daily lives, so knowing how to use it effectively is key to making a positive experience with it. Do you have any tips you want to share? Let us know by following us on TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube @getschooled!