Keeping in touch: Social media and chatting online

by | Apr 14, 2023

Woman chatting online on social media
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The days of waiting weeks for letters to arrive are over.  Now, with a few clicks of a button, you can start chatting online with your friends, and even reunite with old ones. Around 67% of social media users say that staying in touch with friends and family members is the major reason they use sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Your current friend circle aside, social media also gives you the chance to meet strangers from every corner of the Earth. With this, you’ll face many risks and benefits. Read on to learn more about the social media platforms you can use to connect with others around the world.

The benefits of chatting online

With one in four adults 65 and up struggling with social isolation, social media can be a useful tool for staying in touch with the people you care about. It can help mitigate the dangerous feelings of loneliness in older adults and young people alike. It offers the chance to meet exciting new friends, and opportunities to learn new skills through videos and other tutorials. Still, social interaction seems to be one of the primary reasons for social media use in older adults. Facebook prevails as the most popular platform in social media for seniors.

What platforms are best for chatting online?

With so many social media platforms available today, it can be intimidating to decide which ones you want to sign up for. The first step is to decide what your goal is. Do you want to chat privately with family members, or reconnect with old colleagues? Are you the visual type who wants to focus on pictures, or would you rather share status updates about your life? Each platform has its strengths.

Learning how to navigate a new app, program, or site can be difficult. It’s best to pick one platform to start, rather than trying to master multiple social media sites at once. When you’re comfortable using one platform, then it will be easier to learn another. Most sites have guides and tutorials to help get you started.

Family using social media

View and post photos on Instagram

With over a billion registered accounts, Instagram is the number one platform for sharing photos. You can log onto Instagram from the app or your computer and use a web browser to:

  • Edit your profile
  • View your feed
  • Like and comment on posts
  • Send direct messages.

Instagram also lets you manage your account privacy by allowing both public and private accounts. One of the most important things you can do to protect your Instagram account is to turn on two-factor authentication. With a private account, your content will only be seen by the people who follow you. You can also remove followers from your account and hide your story from certain viewers.

Control your feed on Facebook

It’s important to learn how to control what you see in your news feed. On Facebook, the news feed is the default view you’ll see when you log in to the site, and contains updates from family, friends, and businesses that you choose to follow. The platform may show you posts where a family member has commented on another friend’s photo, or a friend reacting to a news article.

If you don’t like this setup, you can control what appears in your Facebook feed. It’s easy to select favorites, unfollow people or groups you no longer want to be connected to, or reconnect with people you unfollowed before. You can also temporarily “snooze” people, pages, or groups that you want to take a break from. Learn more about how to practice social media privacy here.

Chat on Facebook Messenger

Facebook also has its very own chat app called Facebook Messenger. The chat can be connected to the platform, but you can also use it separately if you don’t have a Facebook account. You can use Messenger for both one-on-one texting and group chats. Some features of Messenger include seeing when a person is typing, delivery receipts, read receipts, and timestamps. Messenger also lets you react to messages on the website and the app.

Couple working on laptops in living room

Keep in touch with friends through Twitter

If you want to keep in touch with family and friends through short-and-sweet life updates, Twitter is the place for you. Similar to Facebook status updates, this platform lets you send short tweets to update your followers. What kind of messages can you send? Let your family know what TV shows you’re watching, retweet a quote that inspires you, or tag a friend in a message to see what they’re up to.

You can also post videos, photos, and links to your profile. Keep in mind that Twitter profiles are public by default. When your account is private, no one can retweet your posts, and you’ll have to manually approve new followers.

Connect with colleagues on LinkedIn

As the world’s largest online professional network, LinkedIn is a wonderful platform for business-people looking to network. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job, connect with other professionals, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career. You can also use LinkedIn to:

  • Organize events
  • Join groups
  • Write articles
  • Post photos and videos
  • . . . and so much more!

The basic package is free, but you can upgrade to a paid subscription if you choose.

Just like most platforms, LinkedIn has strict community guidelines to make it a safe space for all users. Use LinkedIn to reconnect with old colleagues, keep in touch with coworkers, and find out more information about potential bosses, coworkers and companies.

Stay safe while chatting online

Social media makes it easy for you to connect with almost anyone in the world, so here are some precautions to protect yourself from scams on social media:

  • Avoid taking immediate action if someone asks for money. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into sending money to anyone—even if it is someone you love.
  • Be careful if you start a relationship with someone online, especially if they profess love too quickly or ask you for money. Whether they’re friendly or romantic, they just might be a catfish.
  • Be wary of clickbait articles—they may take you to untrustworthy websites.
  • Be careful about sharing information related to your location. Post about that awesome new coffee shop you discovered after you’ve left the area, just to be safe.
  • Evaluate your public sharing settings and change your privacy settings. You may decide it’s a good idea to only share your posts with friends and family, instead of the general public.

Now that you know about all the exciting options out there, which social media platform are you looking forward to trying the most? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to check our blog often for more online safety guides and tips.

Check out more great articles to boost your web knowledge at Quantum Fiber’s Internet Essentials!

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