It can be a pow­er­ful tool and a great out­let

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

ed ue es e t in n, er. s n e Ms o e t o me au s of ial e s , 200,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. For these young en­trepreneurs, so­cial me­dia has opened up a vir­tual ca­reer.

“I started out quite by ac­ci­dent; my boyfriend cre­ated a WordPress blog site for me to share recipes with my mum back in the UK,” says O’Neil, who is also known as the Fit Foodie. “I didn’t re­alise other peo­ple could see it at first, but when I did, I started mak­ing more ef­fort with pho­tos and it just grew from there.” O’Neil now has more than 75,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, 14,000 on Face­book and her on­line blog gets more than 60,000 monthly vis­its.

But find­ing a pos­i­tive bal­ance on so­cial me­dia plat­forms can some­times be eas­ier said than done, par­tic­u­larly for kids and teens.

Brad Mar­shall, prin­ci­pal psy­chol­o­gist at Syd­ney’s in­ter­net Ad­dic­tion Clinic, says they es­tab­lished the chil­dren’s clinic be­cause of a de­mand from par­ents at their par­ent clinic, Kidspace.

“If you look at the fact you are al­ways putting the best ver­sion of your­self on­line, it’s not good for you be­cause that then be­comes Tito fo­cuses on fash­ion on so­cial me­dia, while O’Neil (be­low) is known as The Fit Foodie and Sersemis has a beauty fo­cus. the only ac­cept­able thing you have to share,” Mar­shall says. “The dif­fi­culty comes when a child then has to com­pen­sate that with their real self when they’re off­line.” ueens­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor in dig­i­tal me­dia Axel Bruns says the rea­son we are see­ing more peo­ple post­ing is that so­cial me­dia plat­forms are mak­ing it eas­ier to do so. “These net­works — Face­book, In­sta­gram, Snapchat — are in a con­stant state of evo­lu­tion, up­dat­ing what we can do with them,” he says. “Face­book live and In­sta­gram live which al­low peo­ple to post videos of what they are do­ing as they do it, are the most re­cent big evo­lu­tions. As they evolve, so does the way we use them.

“We share so much on so­cial me­dia now that peo­ple risk miss­ing out on real life events, like par­ties, if they are not on so­cial me­dia. Face­book in par­tic­u­lar has be­come a re­ally im­por­tant tool for shar­ing news and you can be­come dis­con­nected if you don’t par­tic­i­pate.”

Bruns says users need to be care­ful with how much of their lives they share on so­cial me­dia as this in­for­ma­tion is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to re­trieve or delete com­pletely.

“Peo­ple put so much power in the hands of these com­pa­nies when they click through all the terms and agree­ments on join­ing,” he says.

“They can change clauses from when you first joined, and in post­ing you give them li­cence to use and dis­trib­ute your im­age and in­for­ma­tion, even to third par­ties, which is why we see tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing on our pro­files.

“The best way to pro­tect your­self is to ask your­self this ques­tion when you post: ‘Am I happy for this in­for­ma­tion or im­age to be out in the cy­ber world for­ever?’ If you an­swer ‘no’ then don’t post it.”

The fo­cus on so­cial me­dia is of­ten neg­a­tive, but Syd­ney psy­chol­o­gist Philipa Thorn­ton says there are many pos­i­tives as well. “So­cial me­dia is a great re­source for in­for­ma­tion, sup­port, re­search, phil­an­thropic aware­ness and fundrais­ing, for busi­ness peo­ple and en­trepreneurs,” Thorn­ton says. “It can be a very pow­er­ful tool and can be a great out­let for self-ex­pres­sion and self-dis­cov­ery.

“So­cial me­dia is not go­ing any­where soon, so we have to learn how to use it to our ad­van­tage.”

Tito started post­ing men’s fash­ion pics on In­sta­gram around three years ago and has gained a 40,000-strong fol­low­ing. “I’m on so­cial me­dia ev­ery day, whether I’m look­ing for a good restau­rant, on­line shop­ping or just watch­ing peo­ple’s lives; it’s pretty con­stant,” the 25-year-old says.

Cass Sersemis, 21, of Wol­lon­gong, started shar­ing pics on Tum­blr at the age of 14. Now her beauty and fash­ion pics are ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated by about 82,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers.

“I started just post­ing self­ies for fun on Tum­blr and moved to In­sta­gram when I was about 16,” she says. “Now I also do make-up and fash­ion tu­to­ri­als on You Tube. I would say I’m on so­cial me­dia all day, my phone is al­ways in my hand, even if I’m watch­ing a movie. As soon as it vi­brates, I’m on it, but that’s pretty typ­i­cal of peo­ple my age.”

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