Being connected is a big part of our lives. But if you’re seeing stuff online which makes you feel angry, sad, worried, stressed, or annoyed, this can build up and start having a negative impact on your life.
For example, you might start worrying more about how you look or what you’re missing out on.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the online world, unable to switch off, or find it difficult to cope, you’re not alone. We all struggle to keep our online world positive sometimes.
Top tech tips and advice from an O2 Guru
Managing your time
Apps like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube make it easy to track your time online, whether you're on iOS or Android.
For Facebook, go to More > Settings and privacy > Your time on Facebook.
For Instagram, go to Your account > More > Settings and your activity.
You can set daily reminders telling you how long you've been using an app. On Facebook for example, go to Your time on Facebook > Set daily reminder. Then set your ideal daily usage.
Apps like Hold are handy, especially if you're trying to focus on studying. Hold rewards you for putting your phone down. You get 'pocket points' which can be exchanged for coffee vouchers and cinema tickets. There are many other apps out there that help you stay off your phone, but don't reward you, like Moment, Stay Focused and OFFTIME.
Apps can help you relax
Meditation apps like Calm have stories that can help you get to sleep, as well as daily breathing exercises that help you relax. Calm even has masterclasses taught by world-renowned experts.
Sleep affects your mood
If you'd like to switch off the blue night your screen emits at night, some phones have night mode.
Go to Settings > Control Centre > Night Shift
Older iPhones have shortcuts to Night Shift if you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. The shortcut on newer iPhones appears if you drag down from the top right of the screen.
Android devices often have an 'eye comfort' mode. This setting can be found by dragging your finger down from the top of the screen and tapping 'eye comfort'. If you press and hold this option, you'll also find a convenient schedule option to save you more work.
When you need to unwind, you may find that something simple like trying an audio book rather than reading on your phone may help. Apps like Audible come with a 30-day free trial.
How can I deal with online bullying?
Bullying is never okay, whether it's at school, at home, or on the internet. If you're being harassed or upset in any way online, reach out for help from someone you trust.
You can block and report the people involved, or, if you don’t feel able to block someone, try muting them - they won’t know you’ve muted them and you won’t have to see their posts or messages.
You can also use the privacy settings on your social networks to limit what they can see on your profile.
How can I block, mute or report other accounts?
Try these five tips for reducing negative content on Instagram:
Restrict:When you restrict someone, any comments they leave on your posts will only be visible to them. They won't be able to see when you're active on Instagram, and they won't know whether you've read a direct message from them.
Comment filter:You can let Instagram know if there are specific words, phrases or emojis you don't want to see and they will not come up on your posts again. You can do this in your privacy settings.
Comment warning:Instagram notifies people if they are writing a comment that other people may consider offensive before it’s posted. This can be a good opportunity to reflect on whether you really want to post something, and how it might impact someone else.
Muting:If you mute another account, you will still be following them, but you can decide when you want to view their content. The account you've muted won't know you've muted them, so it's a good way to make your feed more positive while avoiding any potential conflict that may come from unfollowing or blocking someone.
Blocking:If you block someone, you won't see their content anymore, they won't see yours either, and your account won't appear in their searches or suggestions.
How can I look after my privacy?
Here’s some advice to help you work out what to share, how to avoid oversharing, and how to look after your privacy.
What you put online stays online - even things you delete can be saved or screenshotted – including those Snapchat snaps meant for just one friend.
Online strangers are still strangers - forums and group chats can be a great way to connect over things you wouldn't say face to face, but don't feel pressured to share more than you feel comfortable with.
It's easy to over-share on social media sites, especially if you forget who can see your profile. You can use social media channel settings to create lists so that only people you trust can see all your updates. For example, Instagram allows you to make your account private, or you can use the Close Friends tool to share your stories with a group of people you’ve chosen.
Privacy is possible - make sure you use social media site settings to protect your information. Don't hesitate to block anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you are experiencing the impact of negative exposure to social media, it may be helpful to discuss this with a parent, trusted adult or perhaps our school counsellor. Please speak to Mrs Allen, your Head of Year or your Form Tutor to make a referral to the Counsellor.