#BeSocialMediaSmart2: You Are On Your Own

Have you ever watched a child learn how to ride a bicycle? You probably saw an older person or parent assist that child pedal the bicycle around the compound and a later with a little more assistance on that tiny road just in front of the house. But after some time and with regular practice, the child is able to ride without any help whatsoever. He is now on his own. His safety is in his own hands. Social media can be likened to this illustration.

When you create any social media account, you are assisted to get to know the tools it offers and how it works. It’s like travelling to an unfamiliar city or town. You need help to get acquainted with the place. Maybe you may read about the place on the internet and move out with people you know who already live there and feel safe. Likewise when you enter into the world of social media, you may want to learn how it works.

Just as the physical environment has its rules, the digital and online world has its ethics, rules and regulations, and you dare not flout them. How you ‘ride the bicycle’ will determine how safe you will be and how happy the place will be for you.

Sadly, some young ones adamantly ignore the road signs and then go ahead to do things that jeopardize their presence. Life becomes so boring on social media. If after watching all the videos about that particular social media platform and reading all about how to be safe you still feel a little information would help, well let me share with you just 3 things to make you enjoy and feel safe on social media as a student.

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
Social media is a good place to have some fun, I mean we share photos, jokes and milestones. And others vent out their frustrations and thoughts as well. At first we thought what we posted on our timeline was only published to our ‘friends’. But now we know social media is more complex than we thought, and what we post permeates all aspect of our personal and professional lives, and what we post can have serious and lasting consequences. Maybe you didn’t know this, but nothing is private on social media. Whatever you post, can be made available to the public, especially now with the advent of screenshot. You probably have seen and heard of some persons who posted stuff online, deleted it, but it turned out what they posted had already ended up on the cell phones and computer devices of countless individuals. And with the emergence of the many mobile applications and software programs, your information can quickly be saved even with a stranger. So becareful of what you post online. If it is not something you would want a third-party to see, then avoid publishing it online in the public domain space.

NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR FRIEND
Social media is a world on its own, and a very huge one as such. For the naive student, each person may be nice. But that is false. Some just want to exploit young people. There is privacy settings, yes, which enables one to limit who sees what. That effort is admirable. But remember, your friends have friends, some or even most of which you may not know. And those friends of friends can sometimes see what you post without you knowing. Some people also make the mistake of sharing information on wherever they go, when they go and who they go with, and that is risky. Some even share very personal information online. Remember, not everyone you meet online is a friend. So beef up your privacy settings if you prefer a limited circle. You are on your own.

NOT ALL JOKES ARE FUNNY
Personally I prefer following someone who posts jokes than the one who would always vent frustrations. And the kind of people who do that do it so well. Recently social media comedy has become a thing. And can be a snare. I remember how last year one of these comedians made some unsavory joke about an entertainment child performer on Facebook. It was meant to be just a joke, but far from it. It created a huge public outcry which saw the comedian apologizing. So you may be a funny guy or girl which is great, and social media is a good place to be funny. But be careful that the jokes you crack do not fall on the wrong audience. Take everyone into consideration. If you offended someone in person, you could apologize face-to-face, but when that happens on social media, by the time you say sorry, that post may have been shared over countless times to other circles who may not even know you. Before you know it, you could have a reputation crisis on your hands.

Remember that child at the beginning who learns how to ride a bicycle? Or that person who travels to an unfamiliar city or town. After they are assisted, they both have to do things on their own, with their safety in their hands. Similarly, what you do on social media is in your hands. You are the only one with that username and password. You determine what you publish, who sees what and who makes your circle. What you do is in your hands. You are on your own!

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