As a teen, you’re probably tired of hearing the dos and don’ts of social media. Our parents, our teachers, and even our friends drill it into us. I admit I’ve gotten sick of all the reminders at times but I have seen some stories online recently that reminded me how important this is for teens to consider.
It’s easy to think nothing bad can happen to us because of social media. Actually, a lot can happen – and has happened before. There are a ton of stories in the news about not only teens but also adults losing their jobs, getting kicked out of school, losing scholarships, and even putting their lives in danger because of not being careful with what they say or post on sites like Twitter and Facebook. That seems like a lot to risk just to post pictures of your meal or share your check-in!
Despite that, I still love sharing and connecting on my favorite sites. But instead of just posting what I want, I’ve learned the most common social media mistakes teens make and it’s totally changed my approach to being social online.
Social Media Mistakes Teens Should Avoid
Telling Two Stories
It’s a perfect day — one that can’t be wasted working a shift behind a counter! You call off work sick (cough cough) but then head straight towards the nearest beach. You’re having an awesome time, so awesome that it has to be captured on Instagram. The next day, you’re not going into work either. Your coworker who happened to see your picture showed it to your boss. He wasn’t too happy with your lie and you got fired. (I have a friend who did this and was really embarrassed when the boss fired him in front of everyone the next day!)
Posting While Mad
We all get ticked off from time to time. From parents grounding us or teachers giving us a bad grade, it can be easy to go off on them on social media. But what you say when you’re angry may not be how you feel an hour later. Too bad that status update calling that person or situation out can’t just disappear with your mood. Even if you delete it, someone will have seen it. There is a place for ranting on social media (you know, about things that really matter), just make sure it isn’t something that is going to come back and haunt you.
If you’re caught doing something that’s against the law, you get arrested. If there’s photographic evidence, however, you don’t need to be caught in the act – you can be charged with a crime simply because there’s a photo or video of you on Instagram doing something illegal. Of course, if you are the type of person who commits crime then you probably don’t much care about how you present yourself on social media…
It’s one thing to be positive and encouraging, but it is another brag, lie, or paint a rosier picture of your life than what is true. The people who are truly your friends don’t care if your skin isn’t perfect or your hair is messy. Be you on social media. It’s the only way to be. And we all know your life isn’t perfect, so why bother anyways?!?
Think about the most important person following you – would they be okay with what you post? How about your grandmother? Saying offensive things or posting outrageous pictures and videos may make you go viral, but will you be okay if that status update or post follows you around forever?
Oversharing Without Protection
We’re all guilty of posting too much from time to time. But just know that while you may love posting about brushing your teeth or going to the gym, your friends and family may not be thrilled. I admit that I finally unfollowed someone because of her non-stop, 15 status updates a day on her latest workout routine. I couldn’t take it. I like her but I just didn’t need to know that much.
If you’re not careful with your social media privacy settings, those overshares may even go from annoying to dangerous. Avoid posting your location, contact information, and personal details publicly. You never know who’s following along.
Social media mistakes can quickly go from “Oops! I shouldn’t have posted that” to “Oh no! I’m in serious trouble!” or even “I’ve hurt someone I love and may have lost a friendship”.
It just isn’t worth it, ya know?