Youths and Social Media – Part III
We have underscored the fact that we are in the digital age. This is a great dispensation of time to live in. This new dispensation and platform is to be an advantage to humanity but obviously, if care is not taken, as with other innovations, it could be grossly abuse and become a snare. We are experiencing this already. This goes to justify the words of Albert Mohler when he said, “The digital world is huge and complicated and explosive. It contains wonders and horrors and everything in between.” Without doubt, most of these digital platforms are embraced mostly by young people; they are the heaviest users of some of these inventions of which social networks take a dominant stance. With the phenomenal success of sites such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com, the numbers and variety of social networking websites are exploding on the internet. Some, such as those mentioned, attract millions of varied users and others may be targeted at fewer individuals with very specific interests.
We must not forget that the primary purpose and objective of these social networks is to allow subscribers to be able to communicate and “network” with other members. Of course, to achieve this, it requires that as a user you must share some information about yourself after a personal account has been set up. This is achieved, for instance, using tools provided by the site – instant messaging, chat rooms, blogs, and email. On many sites, members can post pictures and videos. Some sites allow other members to post comments on your profile or blog. This means that once you have an account on Facebook, for instance, you are no longer having any privacy; you are exposed to all the continents of the world even though you are domicile in your local environment.
OPPORTUNITIES AND PITFALLS INHERENT IN SOCIAL MEDIA FOR YOUTHS
Social networking sites can be a great (and actually it is a) place to meet other people with your interests. They can be a fun place to meet and interact with friends. In fact it can be a great platform to express your passion and fulfill your mandate while you are still here on earth. The many positives of these sites, however, come with some real dangers – if you don’t use them wisely. This is one area we want to call your attention. There is the need, therefore to exercise some cautions whenever you head online and join other players on the social media networks. In other words, there are pitfalls to avoid.
Think before you write anything on Social Media Network
Don’t post anything you want to keep private. Am sure some of you have your personal diary where you keep vital information which is peculiar to you. I have my own. I have been keeping personal diary since 2003 once I realized the importance of information. My diaries contain my personal vital information –my dreams, plans, aspirations and goals – most of which I prefer to keep confidential. I usually don’t want them to be for public consumption. And to some extent I have achieved this since all my diaries are kept in my personal study room. What most of us don’t realize is that Social network platforms are like diary. Your Facebook account actually is a form of your diary. Though, the account is personal to you, the information shared on it is not personal. Others can view it. You must therefore be very careful what you write on it. Some of us write and post what should have, at best, remain private and personal information. We carelessly make vital information available to the public in the name of “socializing” and “networking.”
Please note something important here. While your diary will always belong to you; at least no one but you will read it and it will never have an impact on your life unless you choose to do something on what you write there. It is a different ball game entirely when you write on Facebook. Before you post any information or material online – an email, instant message, picture, video, or blog – consider whether you want it to be read or seen by everyone. The net is wide open. Emails can be forwarded to others by the receiver. Instant messages can be saved. Pictures can be saved and altered. Even if you delete information or photos, for example, from your page, they may still reside on another computer and they may have been posted on another site. This is very pertinent for some of us who post all kind of things, even to the extent of exposing something so private to our family life to the World Wide Web (www). So please be cautious in the usage of information.
Think of Security whenever you engage Social Media Network
Don’t be careless with your Facebook account and on others where your presence is registered. Am also learning to be discreet in the way I use my social media platforms these days. We are living in a very porous environment and we need to be very careful with what has to do with our lives. Through your personal account, depending on the amount of information you placed on it, a lot can be discovered about you and used against you. It could become very easy to set you up with the information you place on your profile. Learn to protect your identity as much as you can whenever you engage any of these social networks. Information that could help someone identify you and where you live should never be posted online or at least be carefully posted.
Be careful about adding people to your friends list online. People you meet online may not be what they claim to be. For example, someone can pretend to be older or younger than they actually are and you have no way of knowing if they are telling the truth. Predators also may seek contact this way. Some people may even request to meet you in person. Check the person out thoroughly before you consent or even decline out rightly. The sure way out for you is to be on guard always and to screen every unsolicited posts and request.
Think of your time as you use Social Media Network
Nobody will argue the fact that engaging or maintaining a social network account requires time. To engage in charting, posting pictures and providing comment on other people’s post surely consumes a lot of time. Unfortunately, several young people engage their time on completely irrelevant and unedifying things on the net. Time is the most precious gift God has given to everyone. You will give account of how you use it. When I see what some people post on their page, I wonder how they found it convenient to invest such amount of time to write such irrelevant things. You must guide your time passionately.
Many companies have blocked social networks on their office internet as addicted employees can distract themselves on such sites, instead of focusing on work. So if you are an employee, you need to be very discrete the way you dispense with the time you supposed to use for your employer.
Think of promoting a Cause on Social Media Network.
God provides things for a specific purpose. We must begin to think in perspective of God’s purpose as we engage the use of Facebook and other Social media platforms. There are at least two primary human needs that Social Networks meet: the need to belong and the need for self-presentation. I believe every serious Christian and social networks user can leverage on the platforms to reach people who are desperately in need of crucial information.
You can express your passion on any of these social platforms. Whenever anyone checks in on your page, they should find a clear expression of what you are passionate about. This is the only way you can justify the time expended on them. Personally, I am passionate about helping people get knowledge through committed reading of Christian books. I also love sharing insight from my reading with as many I can as well as promoting new books I come across. To that effect, I engage my Facebook page to achieve that goal. So, when I spend time on my page I know I am not wasting my time. That is a cause worthy of promoting which I am passionate about.
What are you passionate about? I believe to a great extent your passion should reflect on your page. You must be very conscious and cautious as from today the way you use your page. Use it to promote a cause that will serve for the overall benefit of humanity; desist from frivolities. You can lead a crusade against abortion, rape, drunkenness, drug addiction, and many other social misdemeanors through your page on any of these platforms. Furthermore, it can also be a platform to join a conversation that promotes and encourages human dignity and that brings glory to God.
 Mohler, Albert (2012). “The Digital Leader.” The Conviction to Lead. Minneapolis:Bethany House Publishers. P.177