How to Use Social Media Mindfully During COVID-19
At The Diana Award, we understand how stressful, uncertain and upsetting life has been for many of us since the global coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
For all of us, life seemed to change overnight and we could no longer see our friends and loved ones, were told it was no longer safe to go to work or school and were concerned about our health. For many of us, our phones, laptops and tablets have been a vital source of communication with our friends and loved ones, as well as a welcome distraction from the difficulties of isolation and troubling daily updates. For the majority of young people, it’s likely that technology is playing a pivotal role in continued learning, with online portals allowing schools to be able to set homework and assignments and keep students engaged during this time.
Before the global lockdown, however, social media and screen-time faced regular scrutiny and was the subject of serious debate on its effect on our mental health and sociability.
Unsurprisingly, internet usage soared following March’s restrictions, with Vodafone reporting a 50% surge in data usage across Europe, meaning it’s more important than ever to evaluate our online behaviour and make sure we’re using social media mindfully and positively and continuing to champion good digital citizenship.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few helpful tips on how to do just that:
Tip #1 – The Granny Rule!
Before you post something on social media, stop and think – Would you be comfortable showing your Granny that post? If the answer is no, maybe it’s worth re-considering.
Tip #2 – Look out for positivity!
Social media is amazing for connectivity but unfortunately it can also be a place of negativity. A lot of people choose to exhibit cyberbullying behaviour like trolling, catfishing or spreading gossip. Make sure you follow accounts that make you happy, spread positivity and are inclusive of everyone.
Tip #3 – Be an online Upstander.
If you do see any negativity online, any examples of cyberbullying behaviour or hate speech, make sure you speak out and support whoever is being targeted. Whilst enabling global connectivity, the online world can be a lonely place for someone experiencing hate so make sure you’re looking out for anyone who might need support and be the change you want to see in the world.
Tip #4 – Be mindful of screen-time.
We know that recently there have been a lot of restrictions about leaving the house and socialising and naturally that’s lead us to rely on technology a lot more but it’s also important to be mindful of how much time we are spending looking at our screens. Make sure you’re still spending physical time with people in your household, getting some exercise and getting enough sleep! Studies suggest that using your phone just before you go to bed can lead to disrupted sleep and a groggy morning, so why not try give yourself a one 1-hour rule and do something different like reading or listening to music.
Tip #5 – Use social media for social action.
During lockdown, a lot of us have been able to reflect on what’s important and what we care about. We’ve seen a lot of protests and a lot of social action recently around topics like climate change and anti-racism and we’ve seen some incredible young activists use social media to spread powerful messages. Take a minute to reflect on a cause you’re passionate about and use social media to raise awareness, fundraise and campaign that passion. We can use our screen-time for good and the impact could be massive!
Finally, if you ever feel like you need someone to talk to about something you’ve seen or experienced on social media, know that there are people you can speak to. The Diana Award Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are a young person in crisis, you can text DA to 85258. Trained volunteers will listen to how you're feeling and help you think the next step towards feeling better.
If you’re looking for more information on staying safe online, check out our Resource Centre, including our Digital Wellbeing Modules: The Pressure for Perfection and Keep Calm and Stay in Control. You can also check out our How to Stop and Spot Fake News resource, as well as much more.