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