Making and connecting with friends online or through social media can have many benefits. Some people like that anonymity, while others like the freedom it gives them to be themselves. Online communication is also simply convenient – you can contact anyone, anytime, at the touch of a button. What's not to like?
Here are some things to consider:
Wearing a Mask
Computers, tablets, and cell phones can become a mask to hide behind. Not everyone is who they pretend to be. If you can't be sure who you're communicating with, be extra careful. You may find that you can be anyone you want to be while on the internet. If you start to have a hard time transitioning between the "virtual you" and the truth, you may taking things too far.
It's okay to share information with friends, but be careful what and how you share it, and who you share it with. Personal information like your address, phone number, passwords, and even your email address or username can become weapons in the hands of the wrong people. It's the same when it comes to oversharing pictures and details about family, friends, or your life in general. Too little information is often better than TMI.
Because electronic communications are a little bit removed from face-to-face conversation, it can sometimes be easier to say things via post or text that you wouldn't normally say in person. It's difficult though to communicate emotion or intention in 140 characters or less. Sometimes, a message just gets read the wrong way. Other times, people use the distance that the virtual world creates to be disrespectful, rude, or mean. Think before you post!
Fresh Air – What's That?
One danger of communicating with friends online or via text is isolation. It might seem crazy to think you could be isolated when you are clearly interacting with other people. The reality is that humans need more than virtual relationships. We need to window shop with friends, play sports, receive hugs, and give high fives. We need to read body language and verbally speak to each other. Interacting in person helps to develop the social skills needed to live in our world, and keep us healthy and happy. So look up from your screen, and get out and experience the real world!
Who Needs Sleep?
Sure, it's awesome that you and your friends can communicate at all hours of the night, but what about sleep? Without your rest you might forget all that studying you did. Your parents probably won't be impressed by your tired, grumpy attitude the next day either. So, take a time out. Unplug. Put down your phone, close the laptop, and catch up on your sleep. Your friends will still be there in the morning.