When is it OK to post on social media? When is it not? Here are some tips based on my clinical work with teens, but these guidelines are also good for adults.
- Do be careful what you post: Don’t post anything (i.e., pictures, rants, pet peeves) you wouldn’t want your grandmother, parents or employer to read. Once it is out there- you can’t get it back.
- Do be careful about getting consumed: If you need to spend multiple hours online, you need may need to “pull in the reigns” a little.
- Do remember the limitations of privacy settings: You can use the privacy settings, but not everyone will. What you mark as private, others may cut, paste, and put on their site. Your site may be private, but is theirs?
- Do keep private things private. If you wonder if something is private, then it probably is. Treat private information with the respect it deserves.
- Do post things when you’ve had a chance to reflect on what you’ve written. If it’s a good post today, it will still be a good post tomorrow.
- Don’t post suicidal threats or gestures: If you’re suicidal, tell someone you trust. (Immediate help is available at the National Suicide Hotline @ 1-800-273-8255. A free, confidential app that can be downloaded for texting can be found on “SafeUT”)
- Don’t post anything when you’re upset or under the influence. Both anger and alcohol can make otherwise smart people post dumb things. Remember: You don’t have to say everything you think or feel. (That is what a locked, private journal is for.)
- Don’t use social media to settle a score: If anyone can be identified in a negative way- don’t post it. Don’t spread rumors to get even because someone did something you think is unfair.
- Don’t use social media as a replacement for actual face time: A virtual life is not the same as an actual life.
- Don’t get caught up in the comparison of social media. Ask yourself honestly: where will this line of thinking (or clicking) take me emotionally?
- Don’t friend someone you do not know personally: You don’t have to friend everyone.
- Don’t take the bait: If others do not follow these rules, you don’t have to correct them. You don’t have to go back-and-forth defending yourself.
- Don’t post where you are going to be: This is a big safety issue. Don’t schedule times and places on social media. This opens you up to predators.
- Don’t search for the negative: Checking to see if anyone is talking negatively about you will only make you feel negative.
- Don’t participate in social media when you should be sleeping. Today’s tired poster become tomorrow’s regretful poster. Most people would benefit from shutting down their smartphones between the hours of 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.