The etiquette of social media

by Liz Calvert

One evening last week it finally hit home just how obsessed my family has become with social media. The TV was blaring out as normal but no one was actually watching it. Instead they were all engrossed in some form of electronic device, checking out the latest status updates across various social media sites.

I suppose we’re no different from many families – laughing at silly videos, oohing and aahing over the cute kitten pictures and commiserating with the unfortunate posts. However it did get me thinking that I should really impose some restrictions on my children as to what I think is, and what is not, acceptable when posting on social media feeds.

I’ve realised that I have little control over what they read and I just have to trust them to be vigilant about who they become friends with, but as they are now becoming young adults and starting to actually contribute to status updates, I can give them a few pointers in the right direction.

So these are my top 10 tips:

1. Don’t be offensive

First and foremost do not post something that others may find offensive. Not everyone views things in the same light. Something that you may find funny, others could find disturbing or downright disgusting. Try and think about your post from other points of view.

2. Watch your language

There is nothing worse than reading a status update that is full of unnecessary, inappropriate foul language. Think of it like the music industry. Yes bad language can be appropriate in some cases but it’s restricted to album songs. If they are released to the general public then the bad language is replaced with alternative words. Same rules should apply. Remember, social media is the general public.

3. Don’t air your dirty laundry in public

Does anyone really want to hear about that argument you had with your brother / sister / boyfriend / girlfriend / mum / dad etc. If you’re upset then talk to that person about it personally. Don’t rant on social media – you’ll only regret it.

4. Don’t be reactive

Stop and think before you respond to another post. Even if your seething mad and strongly against the view of the post, stop and think first.

5. Don’t complain

20% of Facebook posts are from people complaining. If you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. Don’t complain on a social media site.

6. Don’t be vague

If you have something positive to say, then say it clearly. Being vague is attention seeking. Reading a post along the lines of ‘He’s only gone and done it!’ or ‘I can’t believe that happened’ is eye-rolling annoying.

7. Don’t post pointless content

19% of posts on Facebook have pointless content. ‘I had bacon butty for breakfast,’ is pointless content. It may mean something to one or two people but does that mean it should be posted as a status on social media? No. Message or call the people it was intended for directly because the rest of the public really don’t care.

8. Don’t post inappropriate content

Make sure your post is suitable for social media. Deleting a photo after publishing does not guarantee the content is gone forever. Often it will have already been shared or stored on a database.

9. Check, read and reread

Don’t post anything until you have double-checked it. Spelling mistakes are rife on social media and although errors can be funny, they can also be offensive.

10. Don’t over post

Real life is precious. Spending physical time with family and friends is more important. By all means use social media but don’t let it take over your life.

Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything important that my kids should know!

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