In simple terms social media is a set of online tools used to communicate and engage with people and includes:
- writing a blog or commenting on people’s blogs
- micro-blogging e.g. Twitter
- a personal profile page on one of the social or business networking sites e.g. Linkedin, Facebook, Google+
- reviews of products or services on retailer sites, or customerreview sites
- taking part in online votes, polls and surveys
- taking part in conversations on public and privateweb forums (messageboards)
- using specifically designed “Apps”, e.g. Snapchat
Social media can involve activity between individuals as well as a group of friends who want to share information on what they’re up to, or publish blogs, photos, their music and videos (Facebook & myspace) through to professional industry and informal business networks sharing best practice and building contacts (LinkedIn).
Since its inception social networking has attracted a lot of bad press. This is largely due to incidents of online bullying, inappropriate behaviour and grooming by child sex abuse predators. The fact is however that such damaging behaviour represents only a fraction of day to day life in the world of social media. The vast majority of online interaction in most of these online spaces are empowering and positive.
It is important to remember that the technology by itself hurts no one, people misusing it cause the harm. It is therefore critically important that parents, carers and users of all ages understand how to identify and avoid inappropriate behaviour. Equally users need to take the time to configure their pages and online spaces to give them the best possible privacy and security.