A survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society for National Psychology Week 2010 has revealed how social networking is now used by Australians of all ages to keep in contact with family and friends near and far.

There are strategies for ensuring that people’s experience on these websites is positive, and help to enhance their social wellbeing.

Optimise the benefits

If you move to different geographic area or have less time to meet with friends in person, consider communicating with them online to maintain your friendship.

Inform yourself about security options

Talk to your friends or family about how to use the sites and read up on the options you have to make your personal information secure.

Use your profile in a positive way

Communicate with people who have similar interests, organise social events and share information that you are comfortable with having on the internet.

Be in control of your online interactions

If you are experiencing negative interactions with someone online, stop communicating with them and consider blocking them from access to your profile.

Protect yourself

If you feel that you are being bullied by someone, think about how you can prevent the person from having access to your profile and talk to someone about what is happening.

Be respectful of others

Think carefully prior to posting other people’s personal information, including posting pictures or making comments about them on your site.

Don’t be a bully

It’s easy to make comments about others that can be hurtful or offensive. Think carefully about what you post.

Avoid going online more than you plan

If you think you are using online networking sites too often, think about restricting yourself to a certain amount of time per day or week.

Have a process for screening people who request to be your friend

Consider the following: How well do you know them? How did they come to seek to want to be your friend? Remember, you don’t have to accept every friend request.

Be aware of the information that you post

  • Never share personal information like your mobile phone number or address. Close friends should already have this information.
  • Remember that information you post online can stay there permanently, so think carefully about what you are posting.
  • Don’t post anything online that you would normally only disclose to a close friend. When communicating online you can be drawn into providing information that you did not intend to share.
  • Some aspects of social networking sites are open to all members so only post information in those sections that you are comfortable sharing with strangers.
  • Meeting someone face-to-face. If you really want to meet up with someone that you have only communicated with online ensure you meet in a public space, tell someone where you are going and and if possible take a friend with you.

If your use of social networking or other issues are negatively affecting your life or your relationships, an APS psychologist may help to help.

Contact the APS Find a Psychologist Service

Phone: 1800 333 497 (toll free)
Website: Find a Psychologist