I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I had such a nice one, I did a lot of relaxing and eating – getting up this morning was extra difficult as a result – but no regrets 🙂
I’m not sure if you are aware but tomorrow, the 6th of February, is Safer Internet Day in Ireland. As being online and using social media is my job, I spend a lot of time here which makes me extra aware of the good and the bad parts that come with it.
A few weeks ago I had a meeting with CyberSafeIreland to learn a bit more about it all, and to figure out a way that I could help. CyberSafe Ireland are a not-for-profit organisation that work to educate kids, parents and teachers on how to navigate the online world in a safe and responsible manner. They do a lot of school talks, so I thought I might be able to help anyone reading this by bringing some of the things I learned from CyberSafeIreland to my blog. I’m also going to share some of my own experiences and things I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn).
They mentioned that the 4 main risks for kids online at the moment are:
1. Cyber Bullying
2. Sharing too much information (private and personal information)
3. Harmful content (e.g. self harming, anorexia, etc)
4. Grooming & Exploitation
Kids are growing up in a world now where social media is a huge part of everyones lives. Smart phones are like an extension of our bodies at this stage. More than six in ten Irish people (64%) between the ages of 17-29 feel panicked, desperate or sick if they leave their smartphone at home, according to new research carried out on behalf of Liberty Insurance by Millward Brown. The research also revealed that just over one in five Irish people (22%) spend between one and three hours a day on social media. I actually thought that figure sounded low (I’m sure in reality it’s much higher!)
It’s pretty scary isn’t it? For me, it’s easy to think of lots of reasons why social media is a bad thing, to name a few: we compare ourselves to others ‘perfect’ lives (I did a post about this here), there is a lot of pressure to get a certain amount of ‘likes’ and we have to be so careful about who we could possibly meet on the internet. It’s not always the safest place to be.
But at the same time, we have to remember it can be a great thing if it’s used in the right way: you can keep up with friends that you would have lost touch with otherwise, you get your own personal online memory book, and lets face it we all love a good meme/ funny video. There are lots of amazing things about social media – but we need to learn how to act appropriately online for our own safety and mental health. I was delighted to hear about the work CyberSafeIreland are doing to educate kids in schools. From a young age they will learn to build up their online ‘etiquette’ just like they learn how to act in real life. Us, as adults, are faced with this challenge too – however we were thrown into the deep end of the online world with no school talks or rules – we have to learn how to act here all by ourselves, and that’s not easy.
I think a lot of the time, we are very quick to worry about the kids, and the next generation while actually forgetting that we are affected too. We have to take responsibility for how we let social media make us feel, for how much we share and we have try to develop an understanding of the difference between reality and social media.
I’m going to talk a little bit more about these things, and my own experiences below.
There is no question that social media affects your self esteem. It’s a natural thing as humans that we want to be liked and we want to feel good about ourselves. Have you ever looked someone’s post and felt bad about yourself? I’m going to assume probably yes.
Have you ever posted something yourself that made you feel bad about yourself? I doubt you did it on purpose, but maybe you noticed someone didn’t like your photo? Or someone left a mean comment? Or maybe you just didn’t like how you looked? I don’t know about you but I’ve often asked myself if someone unfollows me or if someone doesn’t like my photo – “Do they not like me?”, “Have I done something to them?”, “Was that a bad post?”.
I have to post every day so I literally couldn’t think this way everyday, or I’d never post. I suppose when social media makes me feel sh*tty I just try and remind myself of these 3 things:
- We put the best versions of ourselves online – our highlights, our happy memories, our best photo. Don’t compare your worst with someone else’s best. Read more about this here.
- Social media is not real life – you have to come offline to see who your real friends are
- How you act and treat people is so much more important that what your life looks like on social media – that’s what people appreciate
Private vs Public – Think Before you Type
Social media gives us the power to share whatever we want with the world, whenever we want. But you have to remember once you share something online, it’s there forever! Literally. It’s scary, as I said, we were all thrown into this online world and we didn’t really know what that meant. But if I’ve learned anything in the last few months, it’s to be careful what you share online. Think before you post. Putting something in writing or even a photo that can potentially be damaging to you down the line, is dangerous.
Don’t let this scare you off from posting completely though, just be careful and considerate of what you are sharing with the world. It’s something I’ve become extra aware of and I do find the ‘public vs private’ battle a tricky one. It’s my job to share, but I am constantly asking myself where is the line? We all need a private life separate to what you share on social media – so make sure you give yourself that. And as they said in Cybersafe Ireland “Don’t share anything you wouldn’t be happy to show your granny”.
Instagram vs. Reality
This whole topic might sound rich coming from me – a blogger who spends most of her work day online. But trust me when I say I know better than most how bad social media can make you feel, that’s why I want to share tips for being able to rise above it. I want to help everyone understand that what you see on Instagram is not always reality.
You’ll know if you follow me here, or on Instagram or Snapchat that I talk a lot about fashion, travel, make-up, fitness, and a few other lifestyle bits. I love sharing these things, and being able to offer people that escapism. I hope I have helped inspire people and I try to share positive thoughts. I love something as small as being able to help someone find the right outfit for a party or a new foundation. The weird part of my job is that I get sent products to talk about, I buy a lot more clothes than the normal person (because I have to keep a regular flow of content) and I get to travel to cool places for work. It makes me feel quite guilty but I suppose just like fashion, beauty or travel journalists, it comes with the job. Don’t get me wrong it’s an amazing perk of the job, but it definitely wasn’t why I started blogging and it’s not why I love it. I just hope that I don’t ever make anyone feel bad about themselves when I’m sharing these things. I want to inspire people with outfits and travel ideas, but I also want to make it clear to people that a lot of hard work goes into what I do and it really is not as glamorous as it looks sometimes. Instagram can be a place that is overly focused on material things, but you just have to remember what’s really important in life: health, family, relationships, happiness.
If you’re having a bad day, and you go on social media to see the best parts of everyone else’s day, it can be pretty aggravating. I know when it’s me I feel awful about myself and I find myself envious of others lives. It’s natural as humans – we all experience these feelings at some point. This is something I’ve been working on, it’s similar to comparing yourself but these three things have helped me:
- Find motivation and happiness in other peoples good times
- Write a list of things you’re grateful for in real life
- Take a little social media break – go for a walk, read a book, chat to a friend
Anyway, I hope you found this post interesting – it was another long one haha. I hope I was able to give you some tips that will help you stay safe online so that you can keep using social media in a positive way 🙂
Have a great week guys,
*If you want to learn more about cyber safety have a look at CyberSafeIreland‘s website.