Be Kind to Your Online Self

by Kerry & Stacy of SociallySafe www.sociallysafe.ca

February is the month of reds & pink. Hearts are everywhere and we want you to love your online self! The New Year brought for many resolutions and goals to work towards in 2017. This month we encourage you to look at your online self. It’s a chance to change your digital footprint and how you view yourself and others online.

Social media is a relatively new experience for most tweens/teens and you have embraced it whole heartedly. It’s a fantastic way for you to showcase your personality through your posts. It’s a way you can keep in touch with friends and family. Social Media can be a wonderful tool when we use it to engage positively and share images showcasing us in a positive light, volunteering in the community, supporting events and causes that are important to you. However, it can also have a negative affect on how you view yourself and what images you post of yourself. Images that encourage thigh space or are “thinspirational” images that are actually a negative to your body image and how you see yourself.

The world of technology encourages you to be picture ready 24/7. It changes how you feel about yourselves and your body image. There is an unspoken pressure to only share images that you look good in or have touched up with any of the numerous apps that allow you to do this. There are even social platforms and apps that encourage you to post images and ask questions about yourself… Am I fat? Do I look ugly? Do you like my hair? And wait for the response. But when you post on these platforms, how are you left feeling about yourself? You feel great if the responses are positive and lots of people are commenting with what you want to hear, but what if you hear the negative, then how are you left feeling about yourself? Or if no one responds at all, how are you left feeling then?

This year we are encouraging you to not get caught up in it all. Post the selfies and images you like and don’t let the responses and the number of likes, shares, or comments affect how you feel about yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by posting on sites and asking if they like your hair or if they think you are pretty or worse, do you have ‘thigh space’. Avoid platforms that focus on self-image. Know who your online friends are and only connect with people you know in real life. When you see negative posts, change how you respond. Don’t use put downs or negative comments yourself. Be positive and encouraging to your friends. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, why would you hide behind a screen and write a rude or negative comment about someone. Be a digital leader and create a positive digital footprint for yourself.

Don’t get caught up in the number. If you post a picture and wait for responses, in your head we know you’ve got that “magic” number in mind. How do you react or what do you do when you see someone respond with a negative comment or if you post a selfie and don’t have 50 friends like, comment or share…do you delete it? Why? Embrace it! You liked the picture, be proud of it.

This month we encourage you to really stop and think about what you’re about to post and how it will impact your future or that of another person. Remember what you put online does not go away even if you delete it someone has seen it, commented, shared it or taken a screen shot of it. Keep the #THINK rule in mind before you post, stop and take a minute to look at what you are about to say and share.

Surround yourself with positive people and posts online, don’t get drawn into the negative that can occur online. Start to really create your digital footprint and be proud of how you represent yourself online. Be the role model and one that your friends look up to. But most importantly love yourself!

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