12 WebsiteCompass Social Media Basics How to Minimize the Downsides of Social Media Because social media has so many benefits, a lot of people want to continue using it despite the downsides. If you’re one of them, consider taking these steps to reduce the potential harm. 1. Customize your feed. Social media is healthier when you take control of your feed rather than allowing it to take control of you. One way to do it is to think in advance about your goals for each social media platform and session. Want to check in on a few favorite people? Create a group that only shows their activity. Just looking for news? Create a separate group for sources you know you can trust. 2. Adjust privacy settings. With services you don’t pay for, there may be a hidden cost. Social media companies have access to a lot of your personal information and use it to show you ads targeted to your interests and demographics. With that power comes a level of responsibility that these companies don’t always take seriously. So, lock down your profile as much as possible using the privacy settings on each platform. 3. Be careful about what you share. Your privacy can also be compromised by your own sharing. Things like where your kids go to school or when you’ll be away on vacation can be invitations to people who may have evil intentions. Keep your posts as general as possible and be careful about who you accept as a friend. 4. Learn to identify reliable sources. In today’s digital world, knowing how to differentiate between real news and fake news is an essential skill. For starters, experts recommend understanding the types of fake news out there, how it spreads, and the level of harm it can cause. Then, learn to check each source and author, and compare the information with other sources. 5. Don’t connect to third parties with social media accounts. Many websites across the internet allow you to sign in using your Facebook or Google credentials. Doing so can expose parts of your Facebook data to those third parties. Even if you trust the website, you can never be sure how they’ll use your information. So, use other login processes instead, such as entering your username and password. 6. Teach kids healthy social media habits. Even before your kids start using social media themselves, use age-appropriate language to help them understand the importance of things like privacy, emotional health, connecting with others offline, and people who may want to do them harm. You don’t want to scare them, but you also want to make sure they know how to protect themselves.