The use of social media has grown enormously in the last few years, increasing by 9% since last year. Social media can connect us to our friends and family as well as to the wider world. However, we must be aware of the potential dangers it can present and learn how to use the Internet in a way which benefits us most.
WHY IS SOCIAL MEDIA USEFUL?
The main advantage of social media is connectivity. It can allow you to connect with anyone no matter how far away they are from you. The benefit of this is that you can talk to someone without needing to see them face-to-face.
Social media has several benefits in terms of education. For example, it is possible to follow people online, on platforms such as Youtube, who post educational videos about any given field. This is often for free.
Social media can be a useful place to read about news. Apps such as ‘Africanews’, as well as online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, can advise you about breaking news. This can keep you informed and aware of world affairs.
HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA BE DANGEROUS?
There are several dangers when it comes to using social media.
One issue is cyberbullying, which is where people use the Internet to abuse someone. A survey taken in sub-Saharan Africa showed that 34% of respondents have experienced this type of abuse. Anyone can create a fake account and post anything without being identified. This makes bullying much easier.
Hacking is another serious result of social media. Personal data can be easily hacked and shared, leaving information such as bank details and your identity in the hands of other people.
Social media can also negatively impact your sleep. Scientists have suggested that you should not go on social media for at least one hour before bed because it can prevent your mind from winding down.
HOW CAN WE BENEFIT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA?
While there are dangers of social media, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe:
Turn off your notifications. When you stop your notifications alerting you, you may find it easier to concentrate on your surroundings
Only allow people you are close to view your profile on social media platforms such as Facebook
Don’t post your address or other personal details online
If you are bullied online, report and block the user who is bothering you
Social media is an amazing invention which has led to lots of new ways of communicating. While there are a few dangers of over-using social media, you can take steps to avoid them. This could allow you to benefit from the opportunities that social media can offer.