Social media is one of the most powerful forms of communication teens and adults use today. Here are some tips to help you use social media safely and effectively.
1. Respect yourself. Show off how great you are with class. You are a brand and should represent yourself accordingly on social media. Make sure your photos are appropriate. Do not post or text photos of yourself naked, dressed provocatively, or making obscene gestures. Avoid uploading anything you would not want your grandmother to see on the front cover of the New York Times! Social media plays a major role in building and ruining personal images. Be wise!
2. Post with positivity. Keep it cool! If you don't have anything good to say, don't post. Avoid ranting or arguing with people on social media and posting when you're upset. You may be upset with your mom but it would be very disrespectful to share your anger with the world. What do you think college recruiters or future employers might think about you disrespecting your mother on social media? No Bueno! Share positivity and good vibes on the web.
3. No "twerking" videos please! Just because you see a trend starting on social media, doesn't mean it is something you should do. Do not post videos that portray negative images of you, your friends or family involving profanity, sex, nudity, crime, drugs, discrimination, violence, lewd gestures, or anything that could be offensive to the public. Keep your video posts kid friendly. You don¹t want a video of you intoxicated and "twerking" inappropriately with friends to surface while you are campaigning for President in 20 years. Definitely not a good idea!
4. Know your followers. Allowing strangers to follow you can be very dangerous. Even if their account looks harmless, be aware that there are many fake accounts where creeps follow their prey. If you don't know them, ignore them and don't let them follow you. Also, use privacy settings to protect your accounts from being viewed by strangers. Proceed with caution!
5. Be careful what you post for likes. You don't want to end up "instafamous" for something that could destroy your future. Keep your posts positive, dignified and smart. Social media is a great way to build a web presence for future endeavors. Don't compromise your future for "likes" or "followers." Make your mark on the web, the right way!
6. Play nice. Don't cyber bully! - No one has the right to harass anyone based on their sex, race, age, orientation, personal beliefs, values, etc. The impact of harassment is heightened and can have deadly consequences when acted out over the Internet. Avoid engaging in cyber brawls on twitter and status face-offs on Facebook. If you have a personal issue with someone, keep it off the Internet. If anyone is saying things about you on social media, report their account and let a relative know.
7. Think before you post. Nothing is ever truly deleted, so be very sure about what you post before you hit the "post" or "send" button. Once you post a picture or a status it is stored on the site¹s server and can normally be retrieved even if you delete it from your profile. So, be smart and post with care for your future!
8. If you see something, say something! Report anything inappropriate. Block or un-follow people that post negative comments on your timeline, make you uncomfortable or harass you in any way.
9. Manage your use wisely. Too much of anything can become a bad thing. Is social media keeping you from getting work done? Try putting time limits on your social media usage to make sure it is not impacting your productivity.
10. Don't post your every move. Leave some information to share with your real friends and family over the phone. Your best friend would probably want to know you and your boyfriend broke up before the whole world knows via your relationship status change. Also be careful sharing info when you are going out of town. You don't want to alert a potential burglar that you will be in the Bahamas for a week with your family.
As a teenager it is important that you are aware, informed, and understand the risks that come along with using social media. Remember to protect yourself, censor what you post, and choose the crowd you associate with wisely.
[Akilah C. Thompson is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of North Carolina A & T State University where she earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting and Business Economics. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, Certified Life Coach, Licensed Zumba Instructor, and Inspirational Speaker. She is the Founder & CEO of her trademark company ACT Inspires Inc and nonprofit, Generations Inspired Inc. Akilah is also a model, actor, and author. Her life goal is to inspire and empower others to be Ambitious, Courageous & Talented. For more information, please visit Act Inspires.]