Social media can sometimes be confusing, with people hardly recognizing when the boundaries and limits of safety are being crossed. There are dangers with using social media beyond its safety limits. And teens are more exposed to it than any other generation.
It’s more like the case with the use of mobile phones when driving, where statistics show that teens are more likely to be involved in crashes due to distraction. This does not leave social media out. Parents have to be cautious of what social media habits they condone and know when to set the limit with their young adult children.
The following are some dangerous social media habits with lessons to take from each.
Healthy competition bolstered by social proof–such as schools praising a high-performing student by displaying plaques and awards honoring them–is ideal and should often be encouraged. However, when it crosses over to users having to compare themselves to others on social media, the aftermath could be unhealthy. Situations like this often lead to bullying and poor self-esteem for the victim.
In a 2012 survey on the effects of social media on self-esteem and anxiety, 50 percent of the 298 participants said social media use has decreased their quality of living. They also reported that by comparing their accomplishments to those of others on social media, their self-esteem has suffered.
The lesson to be learned from this is that the habit of comparing yourself–or your spouse and anything in your life, for that matter–to others on social media is detrimental to your health.
There is often a little difference between the way a person using social media and a member of a mob behaves. Public shaming is now a common practice among most social media users. They even normalize this habit.
By using social media to encourage others to bully someone, you’re also a participant in cyberbullying.
Wired shed light on the story of three participants in PyCon where one overheard certain words that made her feel uncomfortable (from two males, no less). In response, she shared a picture of the people whose jokes she found crude on Twitter, and the story soon exploded, reaching media outlets from The Washington Post to MSNBC. The result led to one of the males being identified by his boss and consequently fired from his job. In sympathy toward him, the social media mob soon turned on her and she also lost her job.
If there’s anything to learn from this, it’s that when it comes to social media and public shaming, everyone loses.
Wanting to be noticed is not inherently a bad habit–this is just basic human behavior. However, there are times when this is taken to the extreme on social media sites. This is when seeking attention on social media tends to become a dangerous habit.
Mostly when we seek attention on social media, we often get the reverse of what we seek. The result is that the user begins to put on a pretentious attitude just to gain validation from others.
Social media, as with everything good, has its positive and negative uses. When social media is used with purpose and with a bit of self-restraint, the experience can be rewarding for everyone involved. You should monitor your social media habits and those of your teens for traces of dangerous habits. If noticed, try to curb those habits early on.
Image courtesy of Michael Krinke/iStock.