The Internet is undoubtedly a powerful tool. With the advent of social media, you can connect with old friends no matter where they are in the world, or link up with new business contacts just by adding them to your network. You can even make extra money by setting up an online store while keeping your day job. The opportunities that come with social networking are endless!
However, there are also certain disadvantages to the use of social media. Let’s look at some of them.
Social media and its disadvantages
It is a “time suck.” According to a recent survey, Americans spend, more or less, 16 minutes of every hour spent online on social media sites — more than people from any other country. This probably is not as shocking to some of us, especially with the increase of mobile usage, which enables us to easily update our Facebook status or tweet a photo of our meal from a newly discovered restaurant. Admit it, you’re always connected to your social network sites through your phone — right?
In fact, the same study shows that Americans spend more time on social media sites compared to entertainment sites, online shopping sites and even porn sites (which is actually a good thing, come to think of it).
However, if you’re constantly updating your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media accounts when you’re supposed to be doing something else, like working, then you probably have a problem. This is true especially if you’re tempted to do so even if it’s unsafe — like say, when you’re driving.
It brings out the narcissist in all of us
Social media has brought out our tendency to be “Me-focused.” A lot of people like taking “selfies” or pictures of themselves, or photos of their extravagant desserts, and posting them online. Others seem to constantly feel the need to post their locations, or what they’re listening to, or how they’re “feeling.”
Now, admittedly, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, we need to be careful not to be too self-focused, especially if it is not healthy anymore. Everything should have a balance, even what we share about ourselves on social media. Really, who needs to know what one eats for dinner every single night, right?
It can lead to identity theft and fraud
Of course, during this day and age when just one click of the button can open up worlds of information, one should also be careful with what one shares online. This is especially the case when it comes to using social media. Over-sharing may make you vulnerable to identity theft, so you should also do what you can to avoid becoming a victim.
If you really want to help prevent online identity theft (and who doesn’t, right?), you need to be aware of the potential dangers social networking sites pose to consumers. Social media protection may be something that many users overlook, so do your research and implement the strategies you need to protect yourself.
One thing you can do is to keep your passwords safe, and to change them regularly, too. Also, never share sensitive information online, even if you think you’re using a safe site. For credit fraud protection, it would also be good to perform regular credit monitoring to see if there are any discrepancies or suspicious activity, which could in turn be a sign of identity theft and/or credit fraud.
Make the most out of your social networking time
Given the aforementioned disadvantages of using social media, how then can we make our time online on social networking sites useful? Here are some suggestions:
- If you’re a business owner with one or several social media accounts, make the most of it (or them, if you have more than one account) by engaging with your customers and potential customers. Come up with strategies on how to do so effectively, and change these if and when you need to.
- When checking your social media feeds, skim through the “unimportant” posts and focus only on reading those that are interesting or relevant to you and, if you own a business, to your business. Remember, time is golden, so don’t waste it browsing through your former girlfriend’s latest photo album, or drooling over your office mate’s Instagrammed photos of delectable dishes.
- Take advantage of media alert systems that send you emails of headlines and news that are relevant to you.
- Don’t worry too much about missing out on “the action,” i.e. what’s going on out there. Try to recall the time when you didn’t have to be updated on the latest news and trends and focus on making your social media time productive.
- Set a limit for your online time. This may be challenging but is definitely possible. If it helps, set an alarm to go off when your social media time is up. Then move on to other tasks that you need to do, whether you’re at work or at home.
- Come up with a list of tasks that requires you to use social media and focus on accomplishing them within your set social media time. Try to stick to your list and not “wander off” to do non-productive things online, like browse through the latest selection of offerings at your favourite online store on Facebook.
- If you’re a business owner, you may want to consider hiring people to do your social media tasks for you. This way, you’re freed up to do other things.
- Aside from productivity, always be aware of the safety of your social media activities. Remember, one way to help establish credit fraud protection is to be wary of what one shares online. Although you may be tempted to do so, it may be best not to publicly declare that you are out of the country on a fantastic holiday. Never give out your credit details online, unless you’re sure you’re dealing with a trusted person.
Like many other things, social media can be a useful tool — if we are conscious about how we use it. Remember, it’s better to be on the prudent and cautious side than regret the time we spent online later on.