By Emma Tranter
Social media is a key part of most of our everyday lives nowadays that often we don’t even think about how much we use it. As great as it is, it can present some risks and dangers – whether to yourself and your future or just to your productivity! Here are some things to bear in mind:
The most important thing to remember about staying safe on social media is just to be sensible! There is a lot of scaremongering about the dangers, or how many people are out to catfish, but if you’re careful and aware you have no need to worry. Never share bank details, and be cautious of the contact details you share. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, is harassing you etc, block and report them – it’s not worth arguing with people who are deliberately bothering you.
If you’re being threatened, harassed or cyber-stalked, and blocking and reporting the people harassing you isn’t getting you anywhere, it might be worth getting advice from an organisation like cybersmile, and it may be necessary to contact the police.
If you’re meeting people from online, whether on a Tinder date or meeting a friend you made online, do it in a public place you know you’ll be safe in – it’s unlikely that it will be a precaution you need to take but even if the person you’re meeting isn’t a threat, being somewhere you can escape from quickly is convenient in case you don’t get along as well as you hoped!
Sometimes it’s worth being a little cautious about what you post online – especially if it’s under your full name, since potential employers may Google you, and you don’t want your online presence to cost you a job!
If you want to be able to interact with friends online to share more private details, it’s worth considering the privacy settings of your account. For example, if you want a place to vent about sensitive details of your personal life on Twitter, it’s worth doing that on a locked account, or at the very least, not using your full name on your account if you think it might affect your
As for keeping social media from becoming a distraction, especially at this time of year when there is so much studying to be done, it’s really helpful to set times for studying where you’re not on social media, and stick to them.
If that kind of discipline is hard, you can download apps to keep you off social media. ‘Forest: Stay Focused’ is good for mobile, it grows trees while you’re working and if you try to use your phone while a tree is growing, it kills the tree! It’s a bit annoying to not be able to use your phone but it’s a good way of keeping you focused and you can measure your progress and productivity – it grows a virtual forest for all the time you spend working! As well, there are a variety of browser extensions you can download to keep you off distracting sites, things like ‘Stay Focused’ for Chrome and ‘Self Control’ for Mac.
Beyond that, you can delete social media apps off your phone, that way when you reach for your phone to distract you, you won’t be able to waste time on social media so easily. If that doesn’t work, deactivate your accounts!
You can deactivate Twitter for a month before it deletes your account, and you can deactivate Facebook indefinitely – all your account data is saved but your account disappears for a while, and you can’t access it without reactivating it! With Facebook, you can still access the Messenger app on your phone while you’ve done this, so you have no need to miss out on important conversations in your group chat.