If you’ve ever used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, then you already know of the vast landscape of social media. It’s fun, engaging, and sometimes overwhelming. As great an experience as social media can be, there are also several things that can cause trouble for young athletes when they’re not careful. Here are five solid tips that will give you a safe and fun experience on social media.
1) THINK BEFORE YOU POST. Ask yourself this before you tweet or update your status: is this something I’d be okay with reading a week from now? How about a month, or even a year from now? When you post something, even if you go back and delete it, it is always there in cyberspace. This is a pretty big deal, because depending on what you post, it can get you in trouble at school, with your parents, or with your friends. It may also affect you being recruiting by colleges. Ask yourself: is this something my parents and/or my coach would be unhappy with me posting?
2) AVOID POSTS/INTERACTIONS THAT TRIGGER YOUR EMOTIONS. Teenagers are, by nature, emotional. It’s not wrong to be that way, it’s just part of growing up. Because you’re at an age where emotions control a lot of your decisions, it’s best to not engage with other social media users who post something that would make you sad or angry. One aspect of this is cyberbullying. Did you know that 68% of teenagers think cyberbullying is a serious problem? Avoid being a part of causing negative emotions in others, as well as situations that may cause you to feel negative emotions.
3) ONLY POST APPROPRIATE PICTURES. Did you know nearly 1 in every 4 high-school age teens (14-17) have sent nude pictures of themselves to someone else? Just as we’ve said before, whatever you post into the social media world stays in the social media world. Snapchat, an app where you can send pictures of yourself to someone else, erases the picture after a few seconds. But nothing prevents someone from taking a screen shot of the picture and then sending that out to anyone they want. Basically, the rule of thumb is if you’re posting a picture of yourself, make sure it’s one you’d be fine with your parents, your coach, your teacher, and even a future employer seeing.
4) PRIVACY IS IMPORTANT. Unfortunately, we exist in a world where there are people who seek to do harm to teenagers. It’s important in your interactions on social media that you do what you can to keep yourself safe. Don’t post where you live or any personal info about yourself. Turn off tracking apps that tell everyone where you are when you post to an account.
5) USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR POSITIVE CHANGE. There are numerous ways you can interact with social media and positively influence others. Encourage teammates on Facebook. Share inspirational quotes on Twitter. Share photos of you with friends and family on Instagram. Follow people on social media that help motivate and encourage you, along with informing you. The world of social media is a great place to learn.
Whatever you do on social media, run it through a filter of respect. Is it something that will negatively affect someone else? Is it something that will bring me joy or sadness and anger? Following these five tips will help enhance your social media experience along with keeping you safe and out of trouble.