Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ provide a convenient platform through which we can stay in touch with friends and family members quickly and effectively. We can avoid sending out dozens of emails by posting road trip pictures in one spot for all to see. We can quickly wish friends a happy birthday or find out their new granddaughter’s name without even having to make a phone call. We can reconnect with old friends we have not seen in years with a click of a button.
Social media can be good for our emotional and mental health when used in a way that helps us stay social and feel less isolated, which is sometimes a significant issue as we age. Social networking sites also allow us to save quite a bit of time by making mass announcements and sending quick messages without the need to contact everyone we know individually. This can mean more time for hobbies, exercise or enjoying time outdoors.
However, social media can also steal an entire afternoon, limit our opportunities for connecting with people in real life, and keep us from staying active or spending time outside in the fresh air.
The key to using social media in a healthy way is to use it as a tool to make your life easier and better without letting it take over your life. If it is not improving your life by freeing up time and helping you conveniently stay connected to people who are important to you, it is not worth spending hours online when you could be improving your mental and physical health through real social interactions or staying active.
Three Tips for Social Media Safety:
1. Be careful who you include on your list of friends if you plan on announcing when you are heading out on road trips and will be leaving your house unattended.
2. Always use your bookmarks or type in the address to visit your favorite social networking sites. An email with a link to the site may look real, but it could be from a malicious site set up with the sole purpose of capturing your username and password.
3. Avoid bad people hacking into your bank account by being careful about what you post in public forums. Common security questions for folks who forget their passwords often have the same sort of answers you might post on your profile elsewhere – like your hometown or birthday. Hackers can find this information about you online, and then pretend they are you as they click that “Forgot your password?” button on your bank’s website.