Social media is an important part of life. Just look around the room. The majority of people around you are probably typing away on their phones or swiping through their Facebook newsfeeds. Whether you like it or not, social media has changed the way we interact with people. It's even used in classrooms.
Unfortunately, it is easy to get too wrapped up in it. Posts are often misused, inappropriate, misunderstood or hurtful.
Before you make your next status update or post a fiery comment, please stop and think. Consider these five tips before posting:
1. If you wouldn't say it to their face, don't say it at all
It is easier to write a comment than saying something to a person's face. People are much bolder online, and they often comment in anger or detest without even thinking about the resulting pain it might cause. Hateful comments and posts are destructive and a form of bullying. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, adults are cyberbullied just as much as teens.
Before you post, think about whether or not you'd actually say something like that to their face. Is it kind? It is constructive? Will it hurt them? Always strive to post uplifting content. Lift others up with the words you say and type. Never support or participate in any form of cyberbullying.
2. Digital footprints are real
Whatever you post on the Internet is forever a part of the Internet. Those embarrassing photos you posted of you and your friends last Friday night? The crude comments you made on that article? Those are always going to live on cyberspace. These posts create your digital footprint. A footprint that anyone, including future employers, can use to find everything you ever posted.
According to The Huffington Post, 35 percent of employers decide not to hire an applicant because of the content they found on his or her social media. Avoid posting photos that include explicit material, using unclean language or allowing your friends to post dirty content on your Facebook wall.
3. Public content can be used by anyone
If your privacy settings are set to public, whatever you post on social media is available for anyone to view and use. (That includes pictures of you from your wedding or your newborn baby.) The last thing you probably want is for your pictures to be used in advertisements, blog articles or the latest viral meme.
If you don't want your goofy morning selfie with that hilarious, slightly embarrassing comment to be part of the next great meme, make sure to hit private before posting.
4. The more information you divulge, the more vulnerable you are to attacks
The more personal information you post online, the more susceptible you are to online predators. People can use your information to access your private records or accounts and use them against you to take your money and steal your identity. Be careful about what you post and why you are posting it. Protect yourself from possible security attacks by limiting the information you throw out into cyberspace.
5. Protect your brand
Everyone has a personal brand that needs to be protected. Generally, no one wants to be perceived as a bad person with low morals, but sometimes the things that are posted can lead an individual to draw conclusions that are not necessarily true.
Never post anything that is contrary to what you want your brand to be. The only one who can protect that brand is you. Your actions speak volumes about your brand. Think of what you want your brand to be. Then use your social media to promote and protect that brand. Never post comments or photos that give others different impressions of who you are trying to be.
Brigham Young University works to help students create and promote their personal brand by providing them with the tools necessary to be successful in their personal and professional life.
With more than 85 graduate programs, BYU provides every student with a positive and uplifting experience due to their unique learning environments. If you are looking to further your education, be sure to check out Graduate Studies at BYU.