Keeping an Eye on Social Media: Good Trends to Embrace…Bad Trends to Avoid by Kristen Fettig

Social sharing and personal publishing with blogs and new media have led to a virtual stream of information noise. It’s important to filter out the negative and hone in on the positive. Learning what adds value to your life instead of just wasting your time is best practice. On the other hand, learning about things to be wary of will help you and family avoid falling victim to unscrupulous cyber creeps.

Be wary of these New Trends

There is a new app that is very popular with tweens called Musical.ly and a spinoff, Live.ly (which aims to compete with Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope). It’s a creative venue to post and share music and perform live lip-syncing with other “Musers”, but there is a dark side. It has been criticized for overtly sexual overtones in dress and music, making it a place for sexual predators to find fresh prey. Kids have access to all songs, including inappropriate ones for tweens. There is also a location feature that can pose a safety hazard if it is enabled. To make sure this is safe for your tween, keep tabs on their “friend” list, and only accept other kids they personally know, hide the location settings and make the account Private.

Andreas Kaplan, a European Business School professor that specializes in social media, contends that excessive use of social media is linked to social isolation, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Other research has shown similar links. Just go to your local restaurant and look around. You will see many people on their mobile devices instead of speaking to one another. It is just a matter of time before we see serious societal breakdowns because of the misuse of something that, in it’s good form, is supposed to make us closer. Make it a habit of leaving your mobile device in your pocket or purse for dinner or have a basket on the table at home for everyone to put their phones in during dinner. This is a good habit to get started early with our kids who are born into the mobile age.

Social media fraud is increasing daily. One of the latest examples is the hijacking of big brands. Proofpoint did a study on the top 10 global brands. Of the 4,840 social media accounts associated with those brands, an astounding 19% were fraudulent. 30% of those were used for counterfeit products and 4% were used for phishing, obtaining customer information or installing malware.

Cyber criminals are finding new ways to obtain sensitive customer information as well as company/brand proprietary information. Be careful of the types of information that you leave with companies, like social security numbers and credit card info. When you are on a brand social site look for verified pages, and if a site doesn’t look well-structured or professional you are probably not on the correct site.

The Good News

Despite its dangers, social media provides a great opportunity to enhance the “greater good” of society. Here are some positive social media stats to renew your faith in technology.

A Michigan State University study examined the benefits of technology use for social connection among older adults (average age about 68). The researcher looked at email, Facebook, Twitter, online instant messaging and video conferencing.

He found that online social technology use among older adults is linked to better health perception, fewer chronic illnesses and better mental health scores. “Older adults think the benefits of social technology greatly outweigh the costs and challenges of technology,” said the assistant professor of psychology. “And the use of this technology could benefit their mental and physical health over time.”

Forbes recently touted all of the good things about social media. One positive feature is the ease of delivering news alerts in the timeliest manner. News events often break on Twitter first. News outlets have their own social sites and can quickly and effectively get word out when necessary. Instant notification alerts on social media make this is an effective way to be alerted of emergent breaking news.

Finally, although some may see this as invasive, law enforcement is using social media to detect and prosecute criminals. With tracking software and links to IP addresses as well as new communication technologies, they are learning that social media is a robust source of intelligence and information to help track down criminals and illicit activity.

Proper use, vigilance and staying abreast of the latest and greatest will help you to use social media to enhance your life. Stay alert, unplug every once in awhile, monitor your kids and family use and be socially savvy!