According to Statistics Canada, 64% of Canadians are on social media. Facebook has the highest percentage of users at 71% with 87% of them between the ages of 18 – 29. The average user spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook.
Social media can be a great tool for connecting with friends, especially those at a distance. I connect with relatives in other countries and have discovered new relatives as a result of the process. It has demonstrated its ability to locate children for whom there has been an amber alert and caught thieves through posting video clips.
Social media also has its demons. Just ask Kathy Griffin, or follow the actions of a president on Twitter. It is a bizarre platform where you cannot post a picture of a mother breastfeeding a baby but you can post racist remarks and vilify public figures. When you hit enter the world can view it, forever!
I am amused by the seemingly intelligent people who post, “So excited, we leave tomorrow for Maui for two weeks”! It is so helpful to the thieves making out their work list. Of course, we all like to see what everyone is eating. The one that really gets me is when someone posts about a missing dog in Medicine Hat when I am on Vancouver Island. Did they think it went on vacation?
The most vulnerable users are the teenagers who perhaps do not understand the ramifications of what they post. It is easy for them to open themselves up to predators who hide behind the technology. They can harm a vulnerable peer through bullying and harassment, sometimes with horrifying consequences.
What teenagers may not understand is that social media is part of your resume in the world of work. When an individual applies for a job, many employers will search the internet and social media to ‘look’ at the applicant. What will they find when they Google you?
We live in interesting times and it is ever evolving. Where will it be in five years? For now, be careful out there!
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