Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pressures from social media

Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends, but sometimes it can also cause us to compare our lives to others, or feel like we need to be constantly connected.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the posts you see on social media reflect real life, when most of the time they are showing you a lifestyle about as realistic as a movie set. 

You might even do it too. Whether it is putting a few filters on your selfie, planning a ‘candid’ photo or posting about a night out that wasn’t actually as fun as you say it was, we all create online personas that show the best parts of our offline lives and erase the times when we feel a little bit down, depressed or just plain flat.

The pressures from social media are very real and they have consequences for all of us. They can affect your mental health and how you feel about yourself. Here are some tips on how to deal with the pressures from social media.

What do to

Check yourself

If you’re feeling unsure about posting something, ask yourself why am I doing this? Is it because you are trying to look a certain way online? If what you’re posting online is more about keeping up a certain appearance, it’s probably best not to post it. Being yourself online is just as important as being yourself offline. Stick to posting things that reflect who you really are, and make you feel good about yourself. 

Social media is not real life

Think critically about what you see online — a lot of posts are not 100% real. Behind every staged post is someone taking the same photo 30 times with different angles or carefully placing things to make it look natural. Remember, celebrities put filters on their photos or stage things to make it appear as if their life is way more interesting than it really is. And celebrities have bad days too — even though this may not be apparent from their social media feeds.

Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad 

Go through the accounts you follow and ask yourself whether they are making you feel positive or negative. Then unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and follow the accounts that make you feel good. Try to keep your feed full of posts that are inspiring or reflect things that you are genuinely interested in, rather than posts that make you feel angry or bad about yourself. 

Turn off your notifications and have a phone-free day

If you feel like you are spending too much time scrolling through your feed and it is contributing to the pressure you feel, try switching off. If you feel like you’re getting caught in a social media loop, it can be good to break it up and log off for a while. Leave your phone at home and get out there.

Talk to someone

The pressures from social media can make you feel isolated and like everyone else is having a fantastic time, even though this may not be the case. If you feel like you want to talk to someone, or you are getting depressed, reach out to one of these online and phone counselling services for help and support.