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​Finola’s Feature: Feeling Unprotected Online? I’ve got you covered!

This Safer Internet Day, I'm reflecting on how to use social media for good, and what to do to keep yourself safe online.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning before you’re even fully awake? The thing you feel you MUST check in case you’ve missed out on something. You guessed it! Social media apps. Currently, we young people spend longer scrolling through Twitter than we do interacting with our loved ones…how bad is that!!  

Now, even though going viral on Tik Tok or getting on the Instagram explore page is what we all yearn for – being on social media apps and sharing a lot of our lives online doesn’t come without its own risks… leaving us sometimes feeling as if we are shouting into a void without any response, or worse still, completely alone. But there are some simple things you can do to break down the fear and use social media in a positive way, which will hopefully make you feel more confident online.  

How To Radiate Positivity Online: 

  • Only follow those who inspire / motivate you to make yourself better – no one likes negative role models!

  • Share things that make you happy / feel good – your followers will instantly love you for it and want to share it with others they know too!

  • Don’t waste your energy sending messages to friends that never engage with you online – unrequited friendships just make you feel worse.

  • Set your own boundaries knowing what your limits are will help you use social media for good rather than bad!!

  • Don’t post for the sake of it if you don’t feel up to sharing content online, that’s fine! It’s your account, you can choose when you post! You’ll feel better for it. 

Even if you just follow one of my tips and implement it regularly, I guarantee you’ll see a change in your attitude towards social media! Attitude is a very powerful thing that will influence not only how you post / interact online, but also why. Everything flows from how you feel inside after all!  

Social Media for Good 

Now, you may be thinking, when should I use social media for good? Well, looking out for friends is a crucial one. So many young people nowadays live in fear of reporting bullies, as they worry themselves sick over how the bully will react and don’t want the problem to get worse – that means it’s often up to friends and family to solve the problem. Even if it feels like you’re going behind their back at the time by not telling them you reported the person causing them grief online, they will be loads happier in the long run – trust me!! Remember though, never engage with the bully or you may get into trouble yourself. Use the report function on apps, take screenshots for evidence and talk to someone you trust to make them aware of the problem. 

Another key way you can use socials for good is connecting with loved ones when you live very far apart. These apps are all designed with community and engagement in mind, so there are lots of features you can make use of such as direct messaging, video calling, timeline posting, voice notes and many more!  

Lastly, you could develop your identity by following charities and organisations that promote different sexualities positively or just share your interests and passions with others and bond over that

Remember: social media is just an extension of your face-to-face communication with friends, so use it to enhance your life rather than bring you down! 

Staying Safe Online

On that note, if you do feel like your life online is bringing you down, I have listed some tips below to help you gain back control. 

Keep Yourself Safe By Doing The Following: 

  • Use the account settings button wisely switch your account to private to keep your content safe from people you don’t know.

  • Block or report anything or anyone that harasses you online – you will feel more secure once doing this, don’t let the problem keep building up.

  • Don’t share passwords or login details with anyone – you could get hacked into or your content could be abused as a result.

  • Have trusted family members as a friend or a contact online – they don’t have to have access to what you share, but they will be able to spot any problems!

  • Don’t be tempted to join in with toxic comment threads or blown-up arguments online – you are what you say, so take a step back and ignore the hype. 

Feeling safer already? Good! I’d call that a #BigSuccess then!!