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3 Tips to Using Social Media Responsibly

  • Written by Mia Bacila

The phrase “everything in moderation”, made famous by Oscar Wilde, is often used in affiliation with activities such as eating junk food, drinking alcohol, playing video games or watching TV, which are all known to take a toll on your physical and mental health if abused. However, moderation needs to be present in everything we do, including aimlessly scrolling on our mobile devices. But how many people do actually wonder if they use social media responsibly?

Social media has only been around for about 15 years, so it is too soon to analyze the effects of long-term exposure comprehensively. Numerous studies, however, including one posted in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found out that prolonged Facebook use can compromise physical and mental health, as well as life satisfaction. Being constantly connected to everything can be a blessing, but it can soon turn into something detrimental for our wellbeing.

But how much is actually too much and what does using social media responsibly actually mean? Spending less time in front of our screens? Being more private about our personal life?

Just as drinking shot after shot one night is probably going to give you a hangover the next morning, scrolling through your favorite social media for countless hours a day is likely to leave you feeling sad or lonely. Just like this article explains, the solution is to find balance and learn when to say “That’s it, I’ve had enough!”. Below are three tips to help you find that balance and use social media in a less harmful way.

Find a purpose for your screen time

If you think you are the only one scrolling brainlessly through social media feeds, you couldn’t be more wrong. People spend countless hours a day on their digital devices, making sure they don’t miss a single post on their newsfeed. While wanting to keep in touch with your friends is completely normal, reaching for your phone every time you hear the notification chime may signal a problem.

To keep a balance between your real and digital life, you need to find a purpose for every time you go on social media. There is no exact recipe for this, as each person has their own lifestyle, but some simple habits can help you limit the time you spend on social media and improve the quality of your online interactions.

Let’s take push notification, for example. Push notifications feel, in a way, like getting a reward, so it’s only natural to feel happy and curious when it happens. But when your heart skips a beat every time your phone lights up, and you can’t wait to see what’s behind the locked screen, then you might be in too deep. If possible, turn off social media push notifications altogether and make a habit to only check your social media accounts a predefined amount of times a day. It may be while commuting, during lunch or while you are at home in the evening.

Pay attention to how social media makes you feel and don’t let loneliness, anger or fear of missing out dictate how much time you spend online. If you’ve just ended a long relationship, for instance, negative emotions may push you to check their social media profile(s) daily, to find out what they are doing. This can quickly turn into a bad habit that not only ends up costing you a lot of valuable time but can take a toll on your mental health as well.

Be mindful of what you share with the world

Social media makes people want to put themselves out there for the world to see, but keep in mind that what you share on social media will never actually go away, no matter if you delete your account or posts. Every interaction, share, post, message and like is turned into data, and by the moment you realize you don’t want that out there, it’s probably too late. Think twice before you post something online and ask yourself if you are comfortable with that thing being out there forever.

The internet gives out a false impression of anonymity but gone are the days when your digital trails were easy to cover. The way you present yourself on social media can be used against you or in your favor, just as everything you do in real life, and if you wouldn’t walk around calling people names and making fun of everyone, then why would you do so online?

Social medial has had a major impact on modern employment as well, and it’s not unusual for a potential employer to look you up online and see if your social media account matches your resume. Would you want them to see that photo of you having a little too much fun at a party in college? It’s not to say you should be an entirely different person on social media than you are online but keeping your accounts more private and being mindful of every online interaction you have can come a long way.

Turn social media into a portfolio

Social media is a place where you can showcase your character and be your best self. What are you passionate about? Who are the people that inspire you? Have you done anything you are proud of? If you are willing to put your life out there for others to see, then why not take this opportunity to show them your skills, character and expertise?

We don’t mean you need to fake a perfect life but using social media to your advantage can open you up to a range of new opportunities. Let’s say you are passionate about painting. Even if you only do it as a hobby, sharing your paintings with others can boost your morale and maybe even help you turn your passion into a dream job.

This tip is not only effective for people looking to find a job, but also for students wanting to impress a university or for those who want to expand their network.

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