3 ways to be smart on social media

This past year, many people deleted their social media accounts following revelations about privacy violations on social media platforms and other concerns related to hate speech.

As people adopt their resolutions for the year, it is likely that many more will reconsider their social media use.

However, as a scholar of social media and religion, I’d argue that rather than just stop using social media, people could use it to improve their overall well-being. Here are three ways to do so.

1. Be active

Studies have shown that there is a big difference between passive social media use and active use. Scrolling through a newsfeed and merely looking at what others have posted is considered passive social media use.

Conversely, commenting on posts, sharing articles and creating posts constitute active social media use. Research has found that actively using social networking sites can contribute to feelings of social connectedness. This can contribute to a sense of overall well-being.

On the other hand, a study found that passive Facebook use increases feelings of envy. Researchers asked participants to sit in a laboratory and passively use Facebook by only browsing and not commenting, sharing or liking content. Participants passively using Facebook were found to have an increase in their feelings of envy.

2. Focus on meaningful engagement

Social media sites allow users to engage in various types of communication. There are impersonal forms of communication such as the single click “Like” button and more personal forms of communication such as direct messaging and comments.

Direct messaging and comments can help with a deeper level of engagement. Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock.com
Research has found that direct communication on Facebook can have a positive psychological impact on individuals. A direct message can often lead to feelings of social support and encouragement. It has been found to be particularly helpful when people already share a connection. Direct messaging and personalized comments can provide a deeper level of engagement.