The Dangers of Social Media and How to Control Them

Let me be clear, any form of technological advance is bound to have danger in it. And that includes social media. 

Oh, I should know. As a copywriter who frequently works, gets clients and relaxes in the social media space, I have felt the dangers that are present in it. 

Let me tell you my story... 

I've been working as a copywriter since late 2017. And as part of my work, I need to go through and use social media in lots of different forms. 

But even if social media is a tool, and let's face it, a source of enjoyment and relaxation, I am fully aware of the dangers that it poses. 

For example, I tend to get distracted and lose focus on the work that I am supposed to do. Why? I have to continually check the notifications on every social media platform that I have. It could be through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. 

I noticed that this has left me addicted to just looking at the accounts that I have. And honestly, I just stopped right here so I can see who gave a reaction to a recent post. 

And now that I'm back, perhaps the worst thing that I experienced in social media is someone impersonating me. Some jerk took a photo of myself and connected with my female friends. Later that person was asking for nude pictures from them. 

While it's good to know that my female friends know who I am, it's still unnerving, and I hope this won't happen to anyone at all. 

But let's face it, social media, like any internet technology, has its dangers.

And sadly, my story isn't unique. Because you could be ...

More...

...a freelancer trying to finish deliverables 

...an employee or remote worker trying to do what you've been assigned to using social media

...a business leader or entrepreneur who wants to create a better business 

...and these dangers can still happen to you.  

That's why in this article, we're going to look at...

  1. The Dangers that Social Media Can Bring 
  2. What You Can Do To Avoid These Dangers

So now, let's start with ...

WHAT DANGERS CAN SOCIAL MEDIA BRING? 

Let's face it, if you don't think that you need to be careful with social media, you are being naive about it. 

After all, it is something that you would have to take care of. And in my case, the dangers that I have encountered in social media become a work hazard. 

As I've written in my story, these dangers could include: 

  • Distraction and Losing Focus 
  • Negative Effects on Mental, Psychological, and Physical Health
  • Privacy and Safety Issues 

Let's look at these in turn...

DISTRACTION AND LOSING FOCUS 

Let's face it, you know that you've been wasting time looking at notifications and scrolling down your social media feeds. And yes, it does feel good. But do you know how much time you've wasted? 

Well, you could be losing as much as 50 hours of productive time every month

And whether we like it or not, it takes a toll on the productivity of workers. Of course, since technologies like these are available for nearly every age, it has also affected students in a negative way.

As an online digital marketing specialist, this is a genuine danger that I have to work with. 

NEGATIVE EFFECTS ON MENTAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH

Yes, even if we cannot physically hold social media, we know and feel it's effects. 

According to Sabrina Barr, there are six ways that social media negatively affect your mental health. These are through: 

  • Self-Esteem 
  • Human Connection 
  • Memory 
  • Sleep 
  • Attention Span 
  • Mental Health

Along with that, since participating in social media is more of just sitting around, it takes a toll on the physical health of those who use it. Heck, I actually became more overweight by gaining at least 10 kilos (that's a little over 22 lbs) since starting social media! 

PRIVACY AND SAFETY ISSUES

Someone impersonating me was a wake-up call on my part when it comes to social media. And yes, I realize that they can use my identity to do more damage to people that I know and care about. 

And for the most part, there are five things you have to deal with when it comes to your safety and security in social media:

  • Account hacking and impersonation
  • Stalking and Harassment 
  • Being Forced to give out passwords and other intimate details 
  • Your Data Used in Marketing without permission 
  • Using Your Location Without Your Knowledge

These can pose dangers to you and the people you care about. And as much as possible, you can't ignore them. 

So the next question you have to ask is...

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID THESE DANGERS? 

While there are tons of tips out there, we're going to focus on principles.

Why? Because we need to go at a deeper level to understand how this will work out. Also, we have to make sure that the based on the principles, you can create advice that you can flexibly work on. 

So let's look at the following four things...

  1. Establish Your Non-Negotiables 
  2. Secure Your Information and Connections 
  3. Digital Detox 
  4. Deep Work

Let's look at these in more detail...

ESTABLISH YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES

When we look at social media, there are so many points of view that the weak would often be swayed. They are taken away by the storm of opinions and information that will lead them nowhere. 

If we are to work in social media, we have to find a way to anchor ourselves and find the right direction. 

This is where non-negotiables come in. According to Torie Mathis ... 

"Non-negotiables are the things you will not negotiate on. They follow your values and principles and define not only what you will and won't accept from others, but also what you will and won't accept from yourself. They are the big-time deal breakers. They are the promises you keep to yourself, your family, and your team."

Torie Mathis

It can be virtually anything that you hold dear. But for starters, focus on the following things: 

  • Family. These are the direct people that you love and care about. They should have absolute premium importance in your life. Make sure that you prioritize setting time to spend and maintain healthy relations with them. That is your non-negotiable.
  • Work. Yes, work is a priority that you have to take care of. And you should have non-negotiables when it comes to the work that you do and the work that you can do. Non-negotiables are not always about setting rules to do something. They are also about setting some guidelines, so you have a balance in your life.
  • Self. You can't do much of anything if you don't take care of yourself. Non-negotiables will help you have the energy that you need to keep yourself producing the value that you need. After all, you can't run on empty. That's why you have to focus on creating non-negotiables in psychological, mental, and physical goals. 
SECURE YOUR INFORMATION AND CONNECTIONS

Your information and data can be used and profited from even if you don't know it. 

That's why you have to work on keeping it safe. No doubt that our efforts aren't perfect, but here are some guidelines that you can use to protect yourself on social media

  • Remove accounts you don't use and don't open new accounts unless necessary 
  • Know your friends and potential contacts 
  • Be mindful of your privacy settings 
  • Be careful of what you post, it might come back to haunt you 
  • Be as private as possible 
  • Don't use your social profiles to log into other websites 
  • Ignore clickbait
  • Don't share your location 
DIGITAL DETOX

Whether you like it or not, you need to spend time away from any screen or technological communications device. And now that we know of the dangers that can come up when using social media, it is becoming more critical to have a digital detox. 

What is a digital detox, by the way? 

According to Technopedia...

"a digital detox refers to a state when an individual quits or suspends use of digital equipment and devices to utilize that time for social interactions and activities. It is a technique that enables an individual to relieve stress and anxiety incurred from being over-occupied by the high utilization of digital devices."  

Technopedia

Why do we need it? According to Kendra Cherry, we need to do a digital detox because of the following effects that tech brings us

  • stress caused by technology
  • sleep disruption 
  • mental health concerns 
  • not being content because we compare ourselves to the online lives of others 
  • FOMO or fear of missing out

So how do you do it? Consider the following things before submitting yourself to a digital detox: 

  • Environment. You need to make sure that you remove all distractions and your electronic devices for the time being. 
  • Timing. Be sure that you have an actual time to set aside to do your digital detox. This could be in the weekends where you don't have to work. 
  • Accountability. You can't do this alone. Make sure that someone actually holds you accountable for keeping a digital detox. 
DEEP WORK. 

Yes, social media is a part of my work. But at best, it is shallow work. It doesn't really use my full thinking capabilities. And for the most part, it uses up a lot of time. 

But since I am a writer, I need to use deep work to create the deliverables that I have to give. 

But what is deep work? According to Cal Newport, who coined the term and made a book about it, deep work is...

"Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate."

Cal Newport

Personally, this would often mean letting go of social media. I have to do this for the time being so I can focus on the tasks I consider essential. 

As a writer, planning, creating, and executing my work takes up a lot of thinking. So I have to let go of social media even if for a while. 

It's the same thing on other people. This means letting go of scrolling and going through notifications on your feed. Because even if deep work can be a challenge to do, it is an enriching practice that can help you become a better worker. 

Now I know that social media is an integral part of how we live. But in the long run, those who know how to handle and take care of it will have more control and have more productive lives. 

That's why we here at Social Media Academy hope that this can help you become better handlers of social media and your life. 

Boaz Moldez

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