Self confidence? FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Obsessively comparing your seemingly boring life to the ever-exciting lives of everyone you follow online? Stressing over whether or not your latest selfie got enough likes? Escaping those horrible online trolls? Wondering how to get more followers? What caption to write? How to edit your pics properly? Or which filter makes the sky look really blue without distorting your skin tone and making you look like a carrot? (all valid documented concerns might I add)
Our parents on the other hand, believe identity fraud, attracting strangers and whether or not THAT selfie we posted will come back and haunt us later when we are applying for a job, should be at the top of our list of ‘important things to know’. Also valid points.…
Now, I’m not Einstein. But it doesn’t take a genius to understand that there is a very large disconnect between our concerns, and those of older generations. And an even larger disconnect between the potential emotional impact of social media and the practical everyday concerns that accompany the use of social media in this technological age. After all, without naming any names, we’ve probably all seen the way social media can have a negative impact on someone psychologically and emotionally when used in an unhealthy, unmonitored and unsupervised way... yes?
When I was at school, there was nothing to teach us about how to use social media properly. Nothing to tell us what was appropriate or inappropriate. Nothing to tell us what was or wasn’t kosher. What was or wasn’t to be shared. What was or wasn’t to be tolerated. Things that would have been very useful to know, were simply not in our curriculum. It’s ironic really, social media was invented 20 years ago by our parents’ generation, yet often they don’t know how to use it safely either. They don’t understand that younger generations will always be curious and continue to explore and test the limits of the world they live in, and yes, today’s world is very technological and revolves in lots of ways around web-based media. We will invent, we will make mistakes (and learn from them), we will find loopholes and we will find ways to use it (or abuse it) – especially if we aren’t being taught this stuff at school.
Thankfully, there are now programs like Digital Thumbprint by Optus, which are designed to do specifically that - to help educate and inform young people of all the unknowns and grey areas regarding social media use. I am definitely all for programs like this. Imagine if I had been able to learn how to understand issues of privacy at school and had known how to keep my email and first Instagram account from being hacked. Being an avid social media user - personally and professionally - and having my entire job and life revolve around the sphere that is social media means that I have become very aware of the desperate need for some kind of education in this area. It should be part of the school curriculum. For everyone’s sake! For the sanity of the next generation! For the sanity of OUR generation!
And I’m not alone. Fifty percent of young adults wish they had known more about the consequences of social media before engaging with it … that’s not a small number!
So what is this ‘Digital Thumbprint’ program? And why is it so good?
Optus’ Digital Thumbprint program is designed to teach the benefits of a positive online presence and the way a positive use of social media and online presence can actually benefit you in both your career and everyday life. It shares facts and tools to stay safe while using digital technology and gives advice on how to deal with those anti-social situations encountered on social media like trolls and bullying.
Digital Thumbprint is EXACTLY what we need!
Personally, I wish this had been rolled out in the school curriculum when I was at school. I’m lucky enough to have had nothing but positive experiences with social media (aside from a hacked account and a few trolls here and there of course! … even if I was the juiciest apple there would always be someone who didn’t like apples, am I right?). I have my parents to thank for that because they were always monitoring and watching what I was doing online. It was annoying at the time, but the best thing they could have done in the long run.
That said, I am well aware that having a positive experience is not always the case and, a lot of the time, it is actually the exact opposite! Individuals can feel like they are inadequate due to an obsessive comparison of their life to the things they see online - statistics state that 39% of young adults do this. Other effects such as lowered self confidence, bullying and even obsessing over past relationships or having self-pity-parties by regularly checking in on what your ex is up to or what other gorgeous human they are talking to now are also all too common. I’ll go out on a limb here and admit my own guilt, as well as assume that most of us are guilty of one or maybe all of these things?
Some would even argue that we are so busy with social media, that we forget to be social. Look at the relationships and body language of people at cafés, for example. Most people are on their phones or at least have it on the table or in their lap for easy access. Others might say we spend so much time trying to connect, that we have never been so disconnected. This is debatable, but I think with social media quickly taking over the way we see the world, the way we work, the way we connect etc. that it’s of incredible importance we are adequately educated on these types of things. It’s essential we begin teaching and begin being taught the correct and healthy way to use social media to not only create harmony but to maintain our health and happiness, physically and emotionally!
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all use social media in a positive way?
Who knows, perhaps having that kind of information might be the first step to success in new professions in the future, one’s that don’t even currently exist.
What’s your dream? What do you want to be? The next Justin Bieber? A TV personality? A reality TV star? A supermodel? A scientist ? A professional athlete? A photographer? Make up Artist? Artist? Interior Designer? Doctor? Film Producer? Chef? Veterinarian? Mathematician? Journalist? Want to run your own business? Or build up your brand and BECOME your own business?
One thing all these occupations (and countless others!) have in common is their potential utilisation of social media. Anyone in these industries, AND many others, will tell you that social media is one of the most utilised and fastest growing platforms to reach audiences and spread information and awareness. It’s about understanding your uniqueness and talents (your “brand”), your goals and direction, and then building on it. The power and potential of social media surprises me every day!
So, again I ask you... what is your dream? What do you want to be? And how can you utilise social media to help you get there? What do you need to learn? What would be useful to know?
Love and light,
You tell me ….
For more information on Optus’ Digital Thumbprint program you can visit the website: