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Social Media and Internet Use

Social Media

Social media has become a fundamental part of our lives. Many of us stay connected with friends, family, classmates, co-workers, businesses/organizations and others through different social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other social networks. While being engaged and active online is a great thing, it’s important to keep in mind the following tips and information.    

  • Do not post any negative posts and pictures

  • Remember the Internet is giant public record; do not post anything you would no normally share with a prospective employer

  • Have someone whose opinion you highly value follow you on all your accounts; they will help ensure your future success and let you know when a certain post may be a bad idea

  • Make sure all your accounts are private; since privacy settings can be updated regularly, it is a good idea to check your privacy settings often

  • Set up a Google alert for your name so you will know first if anyone has tagged or mentioned you in a post or uploaded photo; you can look guilty by association

  • Remember you do not have to post details of every fun party or event online for everyone to see

  • When you do post, make sure you highlight the good things you are doing such as volunteer experiences or membership in clubs and organizations impacting the community; generate positive content 

  • Ask yourself, "Would I want my future employer to see this?"

  • Be true to yourself!


Yes, they will Google you: How to be proactive with your online presence

10 Smart Social Media Tips for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Microsoft released a study in December 2009 that asked employers how they use social media to review job applicants. Below are highlights of their findings.


What types of sites are they using?

  • Search engines: 78 percent

  • Social networking: 63 percent

  • Photo and video sharing: 59 percent

  • Professional and business networking: 57 percent

  • Personal websites: 48 percent

  • Blogs: 46 percent

  • Twitter: 41 percent

  • Online forums and communities: 34 percent

  • Online gaming: 27 percent

How do social media “mistakes” impact getting hired or fired?

Types of content that would affect an employer’s decision:

  • Concerns about candidate’s lifestyle: 58 percent

  • Inappropriate comments and text written by candidate: 56 percent

  • Unsuitable photos, video and information: 55 percent

  • Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives: 43 percent

  • Comments criticizing former employers, coworkers, clients: 40 percent

  • Inappropriate comments or text written by colleagues or work acquaintances: 40 percent

  • Membership in certain groups and networks: 35 percent

It is important to remember that you can be fired for things you have said and done online. Unless you as an employee have a contract with your employer stating otherwise, your employer can fire you based on your online behavior. 

Online Reputation Guide for College Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

Tips for Social Media and Internet Use
  • Set time limits for social media use

  • Filter your intake to just those things that build up your self-esteem

  • Use social media to cultivate flesh-and-blood relationships

  • Never use social media or the Internet while driving – no update is worth risking injury

  • Turn off your phone or put it down; disconnect on a regular basis and give your phone a break

  • Use "Do Not Disturb" while studying or writing 

  • Enable Internet restriction apps

  • Power off social media one hour before sleep

  • Remember – online images can be different than reality


There are many ways that social media can enhance people’s lives and have positive benefits. When social media becomes excessive, these positive benefits are replaced by negative effects.

  • Less sleep: waking up in the middle of the night due to notifications

  • Bad grades/poor academic performance: large amounts of time spent online  

  • Higher stress levels due to less sleep and lower productivity

Bad grades and sleep problems linked to excessive use of social media - Mountaineer News Service-West Virginia News. (2013, May 2). Retrieved from URL

When users log onto social media sites, they are immediately and continuously shown a stream of status updates, photo-shopped and filtered photos, liking of posts, etc. These updates, likes and perfect pictures are stimuli that users socially compare to their actual lives that are more than the ideal, presented version of other users’ lives.


A 2011 study found that people underestimate others’ negative emotions, often leading to emotional pluralistic ignorance (not recognizing peers’ internal struggle).  What happens is that people on social media portray themselves as being happier than they really are which increases feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms


  • This 2014 study examines social comparison to peers through computer-mediated interactions on Facebook and its relationship to mental health

  • Found that the more time users spend on Facebook, the more negatively they compared themselves to others

  • The researchers noted that the pattern of higher depressive symptoms after viewing Facebook are especially concerning for college students who are in the process of figuring out who they are individuals and establish their own identity


Mai-Ly N. Steers, Robert E. Wickham, and Linda K. Acitelli (2014). Seeing Everyone Else's Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 33, No. 8, pp. 701-731.

Facebook and Instagram Signs that Your Friends May Be Struggling and How to Get Help

AsapSCIENCE. (September 2014). 5 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain. Retrieved from URL