Superstar Adele guards her personal life, with her longtime love, Simon and their son, and doesn’t share details of their lives with the public. What about you? Has anyone ever shared details of photos of you that you did not want the world to see?
And what about your own children? Does you son or daughter really think the video of them falling off of a skateboard is funny? Do your friends appreciate that you posted an embarrassing photo of them?
After working as a media and health psychologist for over 25 years, I have witnessed the effects of all types of media on people, and I can tell you that unless you have some conscious viewing skills, it is likely that you are experiencing some unpleasant side effects from too much, or the wrong kind of media exposure.
There are lots of reasons to post online and there are several reasons not to post. First, let’s look at the upside of social media.
5 Dos of Social Media
- You can find shopping sites, recipes, photos of friends, career updates, vacation destination shots, and just generally find out what your friends are up to, and respond to posts to stay in touch.
- Your own updates can keep people aware of what you are doing, without having to contact everyone individually
- Take time to think about what you want to say, without responding too quickly, and advantage that avoids communication blunders.
- You will meet and “friend” people you might never have in the past, so you can branch out and invite friends of friends, or people with similar interests.
- Your experience is only limited by your imagination. Search new sites and take the opportunity to learn more about the things you love, and share them with others.
5 Don’ts of Social Media
- Your children will not thank you years later because you posted photos of them in less than flattering situations. Respect your kids’ privacy rights.
- Not all of your friends want you to post about events you attended together, so ask before posting. There may be conflicts of interest in their personal lives that prevent them from sharing.
- Never post anything you would not want a potential employer to see. Social networks are ways that employers can learn things about you that aren’t on your resume.
- Some subjects aren’t appropriate for social media. Inflammatory remarks designed to stir up negative emotions and cause rifts don’t belong. If someone is hassling you, block his or her posts. It sends a message to people who have personal issues that they want to work out online, instead of dealing with them in a healthy way.
- If in doubt, don’t post. If you are unsure how something may be perceived, don’t make it public. And if you regret a post, remove it. Better to err on the side of good boundaries than to post something you may be sorry for later!
Nancy Mramor Kajuth, Ph.D. is a health and media psychologist, and author of the award-winning book, Get Reel: Produce Your Own Life, about the positive and not so positive effects of the media.