Digital Life and Social Media

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Digital Life and Social Media

How could we live without cell phones, smart phones, computer or the Internet? That's how most of us keep in touch with friends, research a cool place to visit, look up a recipe, or find out the latest news. You can be very productive with the tools available – or you can waste a lot of time. There are many things to consider when it comes to using this kind of technology throughout the day.

Managing time

Have you ever glanced at your phone before starting homework or dinner, or going to bed and find that you’ve spent 30 minutes or an hour just reading other peoples’ updates or chasing compelling headlines? Social networks, websites and ads are designed to capture your attention. The result is you don’t get other stuff done, or get enough sleep. Putting your phone away, or setting a timer, or turning off notifications are some strategies for taking this distraction away and helping you focus.  SEE TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS

Connecting with others

Phones can help us connect with others, but can also take away from face-to-face interactions with friends and loved ones. Using social networks, you can share photos and updates, explore new job opportunities, find books and movie recommendations and play games. It’s important to remember to put your phone down frequently and interact with people verbally. Strike up a conversation with someone waiting for the bus. Talk about your day over dinner with your family. Call and talk to a friend instead of just texting.

Physical and emotional health

Too much phone or computer use can cause physical symptoms – mainly due to lack of sleep and exercise. Emotional health can be affected too, especially if you’re choosing to read negative or scary news items (which are promoted online over positive stories). You can also feel isolated from others. Self-esteem can suffer if you are using social media “likes” or “followers” as an indicator of whether you’re liked and accepted. Being bullied online, through negative comments or texts, can be traumatizing too.

Your reputation and self identity

Most people put out their best “face” on social media, ensuring that the outside view of their life looks perfect. This “curating” of your life story may cause you to feel you have two personas: the real you and the online profile. Some of this is natural, since we all want to look our best. And while being yourself is important, it’s good practice to think about what you post, as potential employers may comb through it in the future. Try to avoid posting inflammatory or derogatory comments, or photos that show you making bad choices or that are in poor taste. You don’t want your digital persona to haunt you later!

Safety and privacy

Not everyone on the Internet has your best interests at heart. That includes common cyber criminals trying to scam you, as well as businesses that want to collect and sell information about you. Be cautious about special offers and FREE stuff. Try not to reveal important information such as your birth date and social security number, and always be wary of people online that you don’t already know.

Learning about the world

What we read online shapes the way we view the world. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell what’s accurate and what stories are made up. You can usually tell a story isn’t quite right if you see it in a tabloid headline or as a dramatic email forwarded from your great uncle. However, it can be a bit harder identifying what’s accurate in your social media feed. You can make a habit of reading different news sources and not forwarding suspect news items.

Many articles in this section were adapted from WeRNative.org, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth