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CamGuides: Managing your Digital Presence

What do we mean by 'wellbeing'?

a group of people sitting on a sofa and pointing at a laptop open on the table in front of themOutside of security and privacy, protecting yourself online can often be a matter of your digital wellbeing. Sometimes being online is exhausting and time-consuming, and it's useful to step away.

Digital wellbeing also involves recognising that the internet, and social media in particular, are not always safe spaces, especially for women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many other groups of individuals, and the role that intersectionality plays in the ways in which you might be treated online. 

Your practices for dealing with this kind of behaviour from other people is a personal choice and may vary depending on the kind of activity you are seeing or which is directed at you. In all instances, your personal safety and wellbeing are the most important considerations.

Taking downtime

Your presence on social media is voluntary, and so you can legitimately choose to take some time away from it, or parts of it, while you concentrate on other things. In addition to (perhaps) being useful for your wellbeing, this can also be an effective way of ensuring that you're more productive with your academic study or research.

Encountering trolling and abuse online

Online abuse manifests in several ways, and can generate serious stress and have psychological effects on those receiving it. It sometimes leads to people choosing to self-censor rather than risk receiving abusive comments. You should always seek professional advice and report it if you feel that you are being threatened online.

If you start encountering abuse online, here are some measures that you can take. All of these are voluntary, and a personal choice.

  • Choosing to respond to it (or not): there is varying advice available about 'feeding' or 'ignoring' abuse online, but it is a personal decision, and you are under no obligation to respond to it. You don't have to read the comments. It is also not a decision which needs to be consistent - if you choose to respond to trolling or abuse one day, you can choose to ignore it the next.
  • Seeking out a support network: having both an online and offline support network of friends, colleagues and family with whom you can discuss the behaviour you are encountering can be helpful.
  • Reporting the abuse officially: reporting to the social media platform, to the university, and - if you are encountering behaviour or receiving specific threats to your offline self, to the police - are all valid courses of action.

Image credits

CC0 by John Schnobrich via Unsplash