Take Care of Your Home Online: Social Networks and Your Mental Health

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Undoubtedly, social networks have become a fundamental part of our lives. Therefore, we must be careful with the way we interact with others and remember that not answering; blocking, silencing or deleting is valid, because this will help us maintain better emotional wellbeing. How to achieve it?

According to Kepios [1] , there are some revealing facts about social networks:

  • There are 4.74 billion social media users around the world in October 2022, equating to 59.3% of the total global population.
  • Social media user numbers have continued to grow over the past 12 months too, with 190 million new users joining social media since this time last year.
  • This equates to annualized growth of 4.2% at an average rate of six new users every single second.
  • The latest figures indicate that well over 9 in 10 internet users now use social media each month.

All this shows us the importance that social networks have in our lives. Therefore, we must remember that within any platform we use, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc [2] ., there are real people, like you and me, who are waiting to interact with us.

Accordingly, as in real life, communication will vary and may not always be cordial, a situation that should force us to be vigilant in order to respond appropriately. “Social Media and Technology Abuse (Also referred to as Digital Abuse) is defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline as the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form verbal and emotional abuse perpetrated online [3] ”.

Some examples of this are: Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you; tells you who you can or cannot be friends with on Facebook and other sites; sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online; puts you down in their status updates; pressures you to send explicit videos; sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return; steals or insist on being given your passwords, etc [4] .

According to the Pew Research Center [5] , Americans report experiencing more severe forms of harassment, which encompasses physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment and sustained harassment. Some 15% experienced such problems in 2014 and a slightly larger share 18% said the same in 2017. Additionally, 79% say social media companies are doing only a fair or poor job at addressing online harassment or bullying on their platforms. 

Therefore, to avoid being a victim of these situations that can affect our emotional wellbeing, it is important to start taking action. To begin with, it is vital to remember some internet rules, these are called netiquette [6] :

  1. Strick to the rules of conduct online that you follow in real life.
  2. Think of the person behind the computer.
  3. Present your best side online.
  4. Read first, and then ask.
  5. Pay attention to grammar and punctuation.
  6. Respect the privacy of others.
  7. Respect the time and bandwidth of others.
  8. Forgive the mistakes of others.
  9. Help “keep flame wars under control”. Flame wars are messages that contain aggressive personal criticism or attacks on a person. In a group of chats, heated discussions often degenerate into so-called flame wars.

In conclusion, you should not feel bad if if you have to block someone, silence chats, hide stories or even deleting people off your social network, because your peace of mind comes first. Remember that your social networks are your home on the internet; you decide who you let in.








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