Have you ever wondered how many Facebook users there are? 932,940,340 – Yes, that’s almost a billion, making it the fastest growing population next to China and India! The Philippines ranks 8th in Facebook country statistics with 29,706,800 users, meaning 31% of Pinoys are on Facebook. (This might have gone down after the recent clean-up of fake FB profiles). Then you have other social networking sites like Tweeter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, etc. The Philippines also sends an average 400 million text messages each day. Although a good number of adults use social media, young people, aged 15-24, outnumber them.
Social Media gives us a convenient and effective way to keep in touch, rekindle/strengthen relationships. support causes, find lost family and friends (see Nanay Aurelia’s story), express one’s views, affect social services, ask for and get help, and spread the Good News. It was a lifeline during the recent calamities in the country but it can also create chaos, and even ruin the lives and future of many through indiscriminate and compromising posts/images, cyberbullying, etc.
I was invited to a seminar on the Utilization of Social Media: Responsibility, Detriments and Privileges at Siena College Quezon City last week with Miss Kara David of GMA 7 (one of the biggest television networks in the Philippines) and Dr. Alma G Facto of Lyceum of the Philippines. About a thousand college students, high school students, parents, faculty and staff attended the seminar.
Miss Kara David presented GMA 7’s Think Before You Click campaign and encouraged the students to be responsible in the use of Social Media with the following Guidelines.
- Be truthful, accurate and fair.
- Verify facts before posting, tweeting or re-tweeting.
- Don’t do or say anything in social media that you would not do in public
- Anything you upload can be shared by others.
- Try to ignore tweets and comments intended to provoke.
- Acknowledge, delete and/or correct errors made, and apologize if necessary.
- Don’t do anything stupid.
The students posed a lot of thought-provoking questions and I stressed that “training in the proper use of media is essential for the cultural, moral and spiritual development of children.” Media education and formation in the use of freedom enables us to choose, not indiscriminately but deliberately, all that is good, true and beautiful.
Yes, the social media helps us win more friends, some of whom we have not really met. The challenge is to be a true friend – and wish them good. If GMA 7 campaigns to ‘Think Before You Click,” we can add “Pray Before You Click.” Yes, pray
- that the person who will receive or read your message will be blessed;
- that what you post or tweet may gladden,comfort, inspire, encourage, help others;
- that getting in touch with others may create a better world;
- that your presence online be a sign of Jesus’ abiding presence among us.
Any other suggestions you’d like to add to the list?
Paulines Philippines encourages others to pray the daily scripture reflection through Gospel Power which is also in Pinterest. Pauline Books & Media US offers free Facebook Timeline covers that you can download.
If you are interested in Media Literacy Education for your group, school or parish, you may contact the Paulines Institute for Communications in Asia.