Social media is an amazing thing. It has literally changed the way the people communicate with and relate to others. When used wisely, social media can improve the connections you have with others, help you to network with people who may be able to help you in the future, and provide you with a platform for self expression. As a young person, you may believe that you also understand and are able to avoid the dangers of social media.
For example, you probably know to be careful with the information you share with strangers, and the warning signs that somebody may be a predator. These are all good things to know, but understanding the importance of internet safety is only one part of understanding the potential dangers of social media. There are 7 more dangers that may not put you at risk of physical harm, but they can have a very negative affect on your future and your reputation.
- Engaging in Conflict in Public Places
It happens to everybody. You write a post, and the next thing you know, somebody jumps in and throws shade. Having been called out in a public way, you may be tempted to give that person a piece of your mind. Don’t do that. Think about it for a minute. Have you ever read a confrontation on somebody’s Facebook wall, and thought the people involved sounded intelligent and reasonable? Of course not. Arguing in public is as embarrassing and stupid on social media as it is in real life. Don’t be that person. Delete and ignore instead of looking classless.
- Sharing Confidences With People Who Cannot be Trusted
Private messaging, and other ways of communicating one on one with people are only confidential if both people involved are trustworthy. This is why it is extremely important to be careful about who you share private information and thoughts with. More than one young person has been embarrassed, or worse, when screen shots of private conversations have been posted privately as a means of revenge or bullying.
- Posting About Illegal or Unethical Behavior
No matter how harmless or funny you believe your actions were, it is extremely foolish to post about them on social media, if they involved breaking the law. Even if doing so doesn’t result in legal troubles, it definitely can cause damage to your reputation. At the very least it calls your ability to make good decisions into question.
- Writing Passive Aggressive or Emotional Posts
This irritating behavior comes in many forms. First, there is vaguebooking where you post vague statuses to get questions. Then there are the emotionally wrought, public posts written in an attempt to embarrass somebody who has upset you. These posts rarely have the effect people want them to have, they just cause them to look flaky.
- Bullying or Making Threats
Bullying and threatening people on the internet isn’t just morally reprehensible, it can cause you to lose your job, get into trouble at school, or even get arrested. Here’s another thing to keep in mind. If you post something because you think it is funny, because you were angry, or because you just wanted to teach somebody a lesson, that isn’t going to protect you from the consequences of your actions. If your words can be interpreted as harassing, threatening, or bullying there may be dire consequences, even if you didn’t really mean it. Students should be very careful about this, even the most progressive schools with innovative teaching methods take a disciplinary hard line on behavior like this.
- Trusting Privacy Settings to Protect Your Information Completely
There are many options available to you when it comes to protecting your personal information. For example, you can block specific profiles, direct posts only to your friends list, and limit who can see your posts. However, you should never blindly accept that any combination of privacy settings will accomplish what you want without testing them out.
- Failing to Take Down Questionable Posts And Pictures Before Looking For a Job
When young people begin looking for a job, most of them have the common sense to clean up their acts on social media. After all, it is a known fact that checking social media profiles is a common action for potential employers to take. However, it is important that you not only clean up your current posts and pictures, but that you go back to past posts and clean those up as well. You may even need to go back to old profiles and delete or sanitize those. Remember to also look into comments that others have made on your posts as well. It may be unfair, but those reflect on you too.