Friday, November 13th 2015
Let’s face it: social media is a part of our everyday life whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, experts are telling us different things when it comes to how to use it effectively, when to use it, and which social media apps or websites are the best.
As someone who is (gasp!) almost 30, I was at the forefront when social media began to take over our lives. My introduction to the social media world was with Facebook during my freshman year at college. Facebook led to Twitter, which led to Pinterest, then Instagram – you see where I’m going with this. Whenever I post something on one of these platforms, my dad’s voice is in the back of my mind saying, “Don’t put anything on there that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see.” With his wise words in mind, I was and still am always sure to not post things on my accounts that schools/college admissions and/or current/future employers would not like to see.
Some may argue that sites such as Facebook and Instagram are just as much about the rush of scoring likes as it is sharing something creative with your friends. Rachel Simmons wrote an article for the New York Times entitled Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them. Snapchat, (for those unaware) is an app that lets its users share photos that will then disappear in a matter of seconds. Simmons argues that Snapchat vastly differs from Instagram because audience participation is minimal. No one is able to “like” your picture and there is no unwritten rule of reciprocity or mean comments that you have to worry about.
That brings me to my next topic, which could have (and has had) its own 100+ blog posts written about it, which is online bullying. Having worked at schools and camps, I have seen first-hand how cyber bullying has taken its toll on children. And of course, Snapchat isn’t foolproof. Simmons says that “like all social media, Snapchat can be used as a vehicle for cruelty, and FOMO, or the fear of missing out, still afflicts users.” You may still get a glimpse of an event or party that you weren’t invited to, but as one teen said, “you may feel excluded, but at least it disappears! You can’t sit there and look at it all night and feel bad.”
So there’s lots of things to remember when using different social media platforms, but here are just a few of ours:
- Be careful what you post – remember what my dad said: don’t put anything on Facebook/Instagram etc. that you wouldn’t want your employer/school (or even grandmother!) to see.
- Be mindful – you may have had a great birthday party with some friends, but there were people who weren’t invited, so be conscious when posting pictures. We tell this all the time to families who send their children to sleep-away camp. Don’t have a bunk reunion without one or two campers and then post a picture about it.
- Don’t mention or tag people without their permission – when working at a summer camp, we tell counselors that they are not allowed to post anything with the camp’s name on it. This is to protect the privacy of camp families.
- Don’t overshare – it’s nice to keep friends in the loop about what’s going on in your life (marriage, new baby etc.), but no one really wants to know every little detail of your life.
Make sure your accounts are private – If you happen to let an inappropriate photo or post slip through the cracks, it is best that your account is on private so that not everyone can see.
- Stay in touch – Social media is meant to be fun, and there are benefits such as keeping in contact with old friends, networking and even staying up to date with current events. Just remember to be safe and mindful.