Feb 16, 2024

Scrolling Smart: Morgan & Morgan's Guide to Social Media Safety

Scrolling Smart: Morgan & Morgan's Guide to Social Media Safety - social media

Like, share, repost, tagging, and follow are all fairly common words used when using social media. Hacking, leaks, stalking, and mental health are also other pretty common words used when using social media apps like Instagram or TikTok. While we all know how fun it is to share our lives online, sometimes we brush over the real dangers that can lurk online. 


Keeping Your Data Safe Online

We share so much of ourselves online. Often, people will wake up and share a picture or post a video of their morning routine and where they are going for the day. While as entertaining as it is to catch up with your friends online, sometimes we can fall victim to unintentional over-sharing. So, the question you may be asking now is how you can help keep your information safe online. Lucky for you, we've broken down a few simple things you can do to ensure you're not exposing your personal data.

  • Check your app settings: Did you know most social media apps allow you to choose who and what has access to certain areas of your device? Sometimes, apps will request access to your email, contacts, photo library, microphone, and more. Some applications may even request to store the data used across your phone. So, the next time you download another app, make sure you take a moment to read what it "requires" access to before hitting "accept."
  • Limit what information you post: Online people will use your social media as a way to identify you or even try to impersonate you. In order to keep yourself safe online try keeping your personal information like your full name, age, email, and phone number offline.
  • Shut off your location: As mentioned earlier, make sure you've checked the settings on your app to ensure your location is not being recorded. Online stalkers can use the information you are sharing to learn your patterns and, in some cases, find your current location. 
  • Never open spam: Trust your gut. If you are online and receive a message from someone who is unfamiliar, do not engage and just delete it. If the spam persists, report and block the account(s) to the platform.
  • Do not share your login or passwords: Treat your login and passwords similar to your personal information. No one but you needs to know what information is required to access your social media. Make sure the passwords you use are complex and do not include your name or date of birth. 
  • Anti-virus software: Sometimes, we slip up and click on spam DMS or emails. Stay ahead of the hackers by keeping your accounts and devices protected by installing anti-virus software. 

So, as you continue to use social media, be it to share your foodie photos or the latest trendy spots in your area before you hit post, take a moment to run over these tips to ensure you're not sharing more than you intended. 


Are Your Kids Safe on Social Media?

So many kids today are growing up online. As found in the 19-page advisory written by the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, up to 95% of youth ages 13–17 report using a social media platform–over a third of those claiming that they use social media "almost constantly." Dr. Murthy's research highlighted some of the negative impacts that stem from the use of social media, which include:

  • Poor mental health: A study found adolescents who spend more than three hours per day on social media faced double the risk of experiencing poor mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
  • Exposure to content: Children or adolescents who have been exposed to extreme, inappropriate, and harmful content are at an increased risk of committing acts of self-harm and suicide.
  • Body dysmorphia: Viewing certain content online can lead kids to develop skewed ideas about their body image. An online survey showed that 46% of kids aged 13–17 felt that social media made them feel worse.
  • Excessive and problematic social media use: Allogirthins keep kids scrolling for longer than you may expect, which can lead to the overuse of social media. Overuse or excessive scrolling can disrupt important healthy behaviors and potentially cause behavioral dysregulation.


Set Boundaries 

While using these social media platforms may come as second nature, it's also important to educate healthy online practices that can help your kids keep themselves safe. The best way to ensure you're keeping your kids safe online is by setting some boundaries. Below, we've laid out a few ideas on how you might implement healthy boundaries online. 

  • Review platform settings: Have you checked the parental controls on your child's social media apps? Check to see where you can limit certain words, content, and accounts that may have a negative effect on how your child interacts online.
  • Set time limits: As we mentioned previously, algorithms have worked out a way to keep your kids scrolling for hours. Beat the system by setting daily time limits on certain apps like TikTok or Instagram.
  • Keep devices out of bedrooms: Just like setting time limits for the day, you can set limits on what rooms your kid's mobile or electronic devices are in. Keeping devices outside of bedrooms allows your child uninterrupted space from online social apps. If you feel like the bedroom is not enough, try keeping other rooms in your home, like your living or dining room, device-free.
  • Set good examples: Showing your kids what healthy boundaries look like and the good that can come from them is one of the most beneficial things you can do. 
  • Keep the conversation on social media open: Sometimes, your kids may not know it is safe to talk to you if they've never breached the conversation before. The best thing you can do to ensure the conversation is open is to provide them with a safe and judgment-free space to talk about their experience online.

Remember that sometimes setting or creating boundaries can take time, and not every option we've talked about may suit your needs. It's ok to figure out what options work best for you, as well as what options trigger a positive response. 


Protecting Your Mental Health on Social Media

Maybe you don't have kids, now what? Well, just like kids using social platforms, you also need to make sure you are looking out for your own mental health. While using apps like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok can be fun for a little while, after some time, you'll really start to feel the negative effects. We know it's hard to pinpoint why or how certain things online affect us, but sometimes, it's easier to tell when we are affected. For example, maybe you've been scrolling for a few minutes or, let's face it, a few hours and start to feel a little off. 

Perhaps you're not quite sure what it is that bothers you, but after seeing countless posts about other people's lives or other filler forms of entertainment, you feel unsatisfied. If that sounds like something you've experienced, listen up because we've got a few simple tips you can follow to help keep your mental health in check while online.

  • Boundaries online: As we mentioned before, setting boundaries with your social media accounts or even your devices can make a world of difference. Keeping your phone out of certain rooms and setting daily time limits will not only help keep you offline but also help you keep in touch with the world around you. Start with baby steps, and try limiting your access to social platforms to 1 hour a day. 
  • Reporting negative behavior: We want to ensure the experiences we have while using social media are healthy. However, certain things can often fall through the cracks. Hate comments, DMs, or even some posts can be the direct cause of your pain. If you see or receive something negative on social media, do not be afraid to report, delete, and block. While the algorithm may try to curate your feed, you hold the power to filter what has access and power over you.
  • Seeking help: Sometimes, it's hard to admit we need help when it comes to our social media. While it may seem like a no-brainer to just uninstall the apps on our phones, it may take more than just our own willpower to get us there or even stay disconnected. Reaching out to a friend, loved one, or even professional can help keep you accountable for your activity online. 

If you or a loved one have experienced bullying online or have had your personal information accessed while using a social media platform, we may be able to help you. For more information, contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.