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LENA MITCHELL: How are you using social media in this period of social distancing? – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

For many people this recent period of social distancing has been difficult.

The current need to minimize interactions and activity away from home to protect one’s own health and reduce the spread of COVID-19 may be difficult for people who are extroverts or naturally gregarious.

For me, not so much.

I think I’ve had more communication on social media with family, friends and associates during this couple of weeks of social distancing and sheltering at home than I usually have in months.

As a natural introvert, I have been pleased to have a socially acceptable reason to spend more time with books than with people.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy socializing. It’s just that I prefer it in measured doses, preferably ones that I control.

I’ll admit that I’m only comfortable with a couple of social media sites, ones that I first signed onto as a requirement to research background for writing news articles back in 2004.

Since then an extraordinary number of social media platforms have evolved and flourished in response to the wide-ranging interests of users.

Once smartphones came into existence, every user had an individual computer in hand, and they have used them in ways that are only limited by their imagination and creativity.

Like me, some may want to use this time of social distancing to take a step into the 21st century by at least signing onto a few of the more popular sites to find out what they’re about.

I’m familiar with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and the professional site LinkedIn, but here are some others that my younger associates and relatives use routinely that are so far a mystery to me:

• Instagram: A social networking platform that originated based on photos and videos, but is now owned by Facebook.

• WhatsApp: An instant messaging platform, also acquired by Facebook, that allows people and groups to communicate internationally.

• Skype: A messaging platform that allows people to interact by voice calls, video calls through a webcam, text messaging and group conference calls. It is owned by Microsoft.

• Snapchat: A social platform that uses images and pictures as the basis for chats.

• Reddit: A social media platform organized into subcategories that is organized based on the number of votes the content receives.

• Tumblr: Used by many as a blogging platform as well as social media, and is owned by Yahoo.

As I went looking for a place to start, mostly the names of sites I’ve heard mentioned by the social media savvy people in my circle, it seemed like the list was endless, with a few names that rang a bell and others I’d never heard of: Flickr, Foursquare, Snapfish, TikTok, Vine and many, many more.

The challenge for families during this social distancing time is how best to use social media to support their children’s educational, learning and social interaction needs without abandoning them to social media as a babysitter or best friend.

Hopefully they will find a good balance to use the benefits of social media without falling victim to its ills.

What do you think?

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