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Being Social Media Vigilant

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After treatment for mental health and/or substance use, you learned a lot about self-care, therapy skills to help you manage your stress and emotions, and about being vigilant in those things to protect you from relapse. You can also protect yourself by being vigilant in your social media use. By keeping yourself safe, monitoring how much time you spend, and recognizing your emotional response to what you see and read, you can use social media as a superpower.

Staying Safe

There are some important things to remember when using social media. First, it is best to have as little personally identifying information out there about you, like never post your full name, address, where you go to school, etc. Being proactive about the amount of information that is out there about you on social media can protect you should the worst ever happen, and someone comes looking for you with intent to harm. Never share personal information in messages, and never share photos of yourself with any nudity. Particularly if you are under the age of 18, this becomes a legal issue that can also come back to haunt you.

You can also be careful what you post or reply to. Some people are very abusive on social media, and you don’t need to invite any of that onto your feeds. If you are careful with your replies, you will find less abuse aimed your way, or at your friends, you interact with online. Keep in mind that if you witness any bullying or abuse, anyone threatening to self-harm, or threatening others, you should report it immediately. You can report it through the social media app, let an adult know, and serious threats to self or others should also be reported to the police.

Social Media Responsibility

When you are on social media, it is easy to just sit back and be an observer. Or to participate by liking and sharing. Some people even like to comment and interact. However, most people are willing to let things slide by that are not entirely appropriate. Things that could even be considered mean or bullying to others. This is especially true when people share information about someone that you know is false. Remember that anything that is posted to social media can be public, so if you think what you have seen is okay because it is in a private chat, it is not always true.

When you are on social media, you can be responsible by not liking or sharing content that you know is inappropriate. If you feel it is really inappropriate, you can report it to the social media platform and/or tell an adult. But at the very least, do not reward people who are posting unkind or inappropriate things. It is far more powerful to support people who post fun, entertaining, and uplifting things. By using your own social media voice to support things that are positive, not harmful, you can help demonstrate social media responsibility and change the demand for things that are funny and entertaining without hurting others.

Watching Your Time

A big part of social media is the time you invest in using it. Do you know how much time you spend each day on social media? Each hour? There are apps which can show you how much screen time you have used each day, and on how much time you have spent on each app on your devices. Do you ever look at that? Do you know how much time you spend?

If you are managing life well and social media or other screen time is not interfering with your life and getting everything done, then excellent. You know from treatment that you need to eat well, exercise, do your self-care, take time to meditate, spend face to face time with friends and family, as well as focusing enough time on school and homework or other work every day. If you are doing all of this and still managing your social media time well, then that is ideal. For most of the rest of us, we might have to look at scaling back some of our screen time to do better in other areas.

What Are You Watching?

Another big question to be vigilant about your social media use is to ask yourself what exactly you are seeing and reading on social media each day. Who are you following? What are you feeding your mind? There is so much great content out there. There is also so much content out there that is questionable. For you and others who struggle with mental health and substance use, there is also a lot of content out there that can trigger emotions and even relapse. It is as important to know what it is that you are feeding your mind every day as it is to understand what you are feeding your body.

Being vigilant about your social media use involves all aspects of social media: safety, responsibility, time management, and being aware of what you are putting into your head. By being proactive about what you see and also about what others are sharing, you can become a social media warrior – fiercely authentic to your values and to yourself. 

Be fiercely vigilant about your social media use. Potomac Programs can be a reference point for you. Call them at 1-855-809-0409 today. 

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