How Can You Stay Safe Using Social Media?
Our obsession with social media is at an all-time high. It is uncommon now to get through the day without checking social media in one way or another, and this is evident as the average person spends around 2 hours a day scrolling through the social platforms.
It may be seen as a social environment, but you need to be aware of the threats out there in order to stay safe and secure using these platforms. How we protect ourselves on these sites can't be ignored, where there is personal information online, there are hackers close by looking to make a profit.
Individual social media platforms have been easy targets since they first came about in the early 2000s. To set up a profile, we hand over what seems like harmless information, but it is this information that can make us vulnerable to hackers.
Once hackers have the right information, they can go on to control an individual's account and potentially use it to access bank accounts, set up credit cards, and carry out any other types of fraud wherever a profit is up for grabs.
10 Tips to Stay Safe on Social Media
- Use a strong password. The longer and more random it is, the more secure it will be.
- Use a different password for each of your social media accounts.
- Set up your security answers. This option is available for most social media sites.
- If you have social media apps on your phone, be sure to password protect your device and always update the apps when prompted, up-to-date apps are the safest.
- Be selective with friend requests. If you don't know the person, don't accept their request. It could be a fake account containing harmful data.
- Click links with caution. Social media accounts are regularly hacked. Look out for language or content that does not sound like something your friend would post, harmful files can be sent via links, and sometimes all you need to do is open the link for the virus to be released onto your device.
- Be careful about what you share. The more you post the easier it is to have your identity stolen.
- Become familiar with the privacy policies of the social media channels you use and customise your privacy settings to control who sees what. If your information falls into the wrong hands you could become a victim of identity fraud.
- Protect your computer by installing antivirus software to safeguard. Also ensure that your browser, operating system, and software are kept up to date, just like your apps.
- Remember to log off when you're done.
Mental Health Dangers
Not only are there security issues on social media, but the impact it has on our mental health is just as dangerous.
Trolling is basically online bullying. People feel a lot more protected behind a computer screen, and as a result, they say things they would never say in person. Public figures are often the victims of online trolling due to their high profiles leaving them in the firing line. In 2012, Tom Daley narrowly missed out on a medal during the London Olympics and faced a massive wave of abuse on Twitter as a result. Sadly this is just one of many cases of celebrities being the targets of vicious trolling.
Trolls can find themselves in trouble through, in 2012 student Liam Stacey was jailed after making racist remarks on Twitter about footballer Fabrice Muamba. He later apologised but said he paid a huge price after becoming a national hate figure.
Our obsession with scrolling has become a serious problem. The average Brit checks their phone as much as 28 times a day, leading to a habit that can become damaging on our mental health because of the constant comparisons we make between ourselves and other people. While social media platforms can have their benefits, using them too much can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run.
The constant barrage of perfectly filtered photos that appear on Instagram is bound to knock many people's self-esteem, while obsessively checking your Twitter feed just before bed could be contributing towards poor quality of sleep. Becoming more conscious of the amount of time you spend scrolling through other people's online profiles could help you focus back on yourself, boosting your self-confidence as a result.
As you can see, staying safe on social media is more than just a case of turning on your privacy settings. The dangers can come in a number of forms and could lead to financial harm just as much as mental health problems – both risks that are equally serious.