Stay­ing safe on so­cial me­dia

Be­ing on so­cial me­dia is a lot of fun, but it can also be dan­ger­ous

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Boi­tumelo Mat­shaba

THERE are many ad­van­tages of so­cial me­dia such as get­ting in touch with long lost friends, shar­ing mem­o­ries with loved ones and hav­ing dis­cus­sions on in­ter­est­ing top­ics. Other ad­van­tages in­clude the con­ve­nience of chat­ting to some­one when you have run out of air­time or con­tact­ing some­one even if you do not have their cell phone num­ber. How­ever, so­cial me­dia can also be dan­ger­ous.

BLOCK­ING CON­TACTS

There are many so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as What­sApp, Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter and they all cater for dif­fer­ent needs.

What­sApp is an in­stant mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion. If some­one has your cell phone num­ber and the ap­pli­ca­tion, they can chat to you pro­vided you have the ap­pli­ca­tion too.

You don't need air­time to use th­ese ap­pli­ca­tions and it works out cheaper to use data.

But many peo­ple will take your cell phone num­ber from some­one else and want to start a con­ver­sa­tion with you on What­sApp. If you don't know who you're chat­ting to, let the per­son know not to con­tact you again and block them.

You must also not hes­i­tate to block peo­ple you know who start in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­ver­sa­tions that make you feel un­com­fort­able. If they con­tinue to com­mu­ni­cate with you, in­form a techer, par­ent or adult you trust.

FRIEND RE­QUESTS

Cleopa­tra Mon­gau, who is the mother of an 11year-old, says it is dan­ger­ous to ac­cept a friend re­quest from some­one you don’t know in per­son.

“Once you ac­cept a friend re­quest on an ap­pli­ca­tion like Face­book or In­sta­gram, the “friend” can look through your pho­tos, save them on their phone and use them for what­ever pur­pose they see fit with­out your con­sent.”

She says an­other dan­ger of ac­cept­ing a friend re­quest from some­one you don’t know is that they can see your pro­file and learn about you.

Karen Moross, a psy­chol­o­gist at The Fam­ily Life Cen­tre, says she once had to deal with teens who shared an in­ap­pro­pri­ate video on so­cial me­dia that went vi­ral.

“Th­ese things hurt, shame and de­stroy the peo­ple in­volved along with their fam­i­lies. Th­ese things don't go away; there is a dig­i­tal trail left be­hind,” she says.

ON­LINE SCAMS

There have been re­ports of peo­ple who can cre­ate fake ac­counts us­ing your name and pro­file pic­ture.

They then in­vite the same peo­ple you have be­friended on Face­book and ask them for money, pre­tend­ing to be you. Un­for­tu­nately, some peo­ple fall for the scam, los­ing money in the process.

If some­one you know re­quests money from you via so­cial me­dia, call them di­rectly on their cell phone be­fore trans­fer­ring money to them.

Karen says as a teen, you are vul­ner­a­ble to preda­tors. Do not do things you are un­com­fort­able with and don't trust ev­ery­one you meet on­line.

TIPS TO STAY SAFE

If you en­ter a com­pe­ti­tion on so­cial me­dia or the in­ter­net, ver­ify the source and in­for­ma­tion be­fore giv­ing your per­sonal de­tails to any­one. Don't ac­cept friend re­quests from peo­ple you don't know in per­son. Re­frain from send­ing naked pic­tures of your­self to any­body.

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