Social media is both a blessing and a curse. While allowing us to keep in touch with friends and relatives and keeping us entertained at all hours of the day, it also brings with it a host of dangers and pitfalls. Below, we highlight the various downsides of using these social media platforms that have become such a significant part of our daily lives, and how to protect yourself from falling victim.
Spreading of fake news
Fake news has been an issue on social media basically since its invention. However, the consequences of spreading fake news via these platforms have never been quite as evident as in recent times. At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, fake news was everywhere and was responsible for encouraging intense panic across the globe, leading to panic buying and a number of other problems which had far-reaching effects.
Always check your sources before deciding to share a news article. If it seems sensationalised and over the top, the chances are good that it isn’t legit.
Damaging one’s reputation
Those embarrassing photographs that your friends tagged you in from the varsity street party last year? How would you feel about a potential employer catching sight of them when deciding whether or not to offer you a job? Or your new girlfriend’s father whom you are trying to impress?
The things that you or others post on social media can negatively impact your reputation – and could linger for a long time.
Cyberbullying is rife in South Africa. When surveyed, around a quarter of all parents stated that their child has been affected by unkind behaviour online. It is important to speak to someone in whom you trust if ever you are targeted and to seek help to put the bullying to an end.
Avoid retaliating or engaging with the individual and immediately block them in every way you can. Report the abuse on the social media platform and contact SADAG if you need any emotional support or advice: 0800 121 314 or 0800 567 567.
In short, savour the many joys that come along with welcoming social media into your life. But do not underestimate it or let your guard down. Be careful of how you use it. Beware of what you say.