Posted on 13 March 2017
Social media is an important part of life and can help you to keep in touch with friends and family. You can use it to build an academic profile or a web presence online to promote yourself to future employers.
It's important to know how to engage with social media safely and with respect for others. Make sure you know the risks and how to use social networks responsibly.
A message sent in the heat of the moment often can't be withdrawn and tone of voice can be difficult to read online. Be respectful, avoid jokes that could be misread and if something makes you angry, wait an hour before you respond.
Follow the rule of thumb that your posts should be True, Honest, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind (THINK). Respect yourself and others and never post comments that are abusive or may cause offense to individuals or groups.
Social media is a great way to engage in debates about the issues that are important to you. You should feel free to express your thoughts and develop them by exposing yourself to diverse points of view. Keep the debate respectful; avoid insults and respect the other person's experience as valid. If you mess up, apologise and try to learn from your mistakes.
Assume that anything that goes online, stays online, even after you delete it. Search engines and other services may keep your post in a temporary webpage cache, and archives like the WayBackMachine save cached pages for posterity. So be aware of how the things you post will appear, not just to the person you're talking to, but to future employers.
Phishing emails are becoming more and more sophisticated. Be wary of any email asking for your information and avoid publishing any identifying information such as phone numbers, your address, birthday or pictures of your home.
It isn't always possible to avoid hateful comments, and they can be very wearing. Very often the people who make hateful comments don't know you at all and are writing from a place of insecurity. Try to focus on positive comments and don't be afraid to use the tools provided by social networks to block and report abusive behaviour.
When you need to, take a step back and do something away from the Internet. Our top tips for wellbeing and mindfulness videos may help.
For more information and advice about staying safe online and using social media responsibly, visit our Social media safety webpage. You may also find this article on How to be a responsible internet citizen helpful.