Whether you love it or hate it, social media is entrenched in our society. It doesn't matter whether you're a social media fanatic or still think a tweet is something that wakes you up early on a Sunday morning, social media is here to stay.

There are lots of debate about whether social media is good for our overall wellbeing. Some argue social media is addictive and we spend too much time online; whereas others would say we are more connected than ever and it's easier to stay in touch with family and friends.

Yes it's great for people to remain connected and there are some wonderful benefits of social media. We can receive the most up-to-date news; it helps us foster relationships; it benefits businesses by allowing their brands to reach customers it otherwise mightn't; and you can message, voice or video call anyone at the touch of a button.

With every great feature however, there seems to be a comparably negative side. Whenever we post a status or photo online, it's important to remember those less-than-flattering, or even humiliating, photos can exist in the virtual world forever.


Social media bullies or "trolls" can spread hate and negativity anonymously. It can impact self-esteem when users compare themselves to the glossy lives others depict themselves having online.

Mental health issues can become a problem for users obsessed with people "liking" their status and accumulating thousands of "friends".

So is it good or bad?

Most experts would conclude that it's not about whether social media is good or bad. It's more about how we use it.

Like most things, if there is a promotion of awareness and education, it will likely add to a positive experience rather than a negative one.

This is where we as a society can help. If you have children, it's critical you encourage open and safe conversations about some of the risks and dangers of the social media world. In saying that, also be aware of your own behaviour.

If you are a heavy social media user, your children will be watching that behaviour and believe it's normal.

So, enjoy all the positive aspects of social media, but also be aware of the traps.


• For further information regarding safety on the internet, go online to Netsafe at www.netsafe.org.nz

Dane Haskell is the co-ordinator for Taranaki Safe Families Trust.