by Ellen Weismer
Social Media can be a great tool for creating connections, business networking and learning about the community around you. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter are platforms that allow you to show a snapshot of your daily life or express your opinions.. Other sites like LinkedIn can be used for professional networking. As you prepare to head off to college here are some ways you can use social media responsibly and safely.
- Do your best to separate your personal/social life from your professional life online. Use the privacy settings to keep your posts and accounts more secure. Make sure only your friends and followers have access to seeing your profile. Learn about how the different platforms allow you to privatize your posts so you can curate who can see them and interact with them.
- Do the same for who you connect with online. Only accept requests and connections from people you can verify. Limiting the number of people who follow you will help you keep track of who are legitimate connections and will allow you to confidently post without having to worry about someone with a fake account accessing information about you.
- Be careful about what you post and consider that anything you put online could be accessed or seen by your parents, friends or even a current/ future employer. Don’t post pictures, financial information, your location or anything else you wouldn’t want others to see, even if your account is anonymous or private. Even if it is deleted, most things on the internet never really disappear.
- Make sure to protect your accounts with strong passwords and don’t share your passwords with anyone. Use different passwords for each site and avoid using common phrases or things that would be easy to guess like your middle name or pet’s name. Change your passwords every few months to keep your accounts safe.
- If you manage the social media accounts for clubs, fraternities, sports teams or other organizations you are a part of keep those completely separate from your personal social media accounts.
- Learn the rules for professional networking and employ those rules for all of your online presence. It is not uncommon for employers to search potential applicants online and many people have lost jobs due to their behavior on social networking. Your employer may have policies about social media and these need to be followed strictly. The guidelines created by employers are often best practices that you can follow on your personal accounts as well.
Social media is a big part of daily life and when used responsibly and safely it will be a great tool as you head off to college and into the workforce.