Tips for teens on how to best use social media

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Teenagers hear all about the "don'ts" of social media, but what about the "do's?"

Teenagers hear all about the "don'ts" of social media, but what about the "do's?"

That's the message of a local social media coach who focuses on how teens can best showcase themselves to not only maintain a positive reputation, but to also make the right impression on potential colleges and employers who are now checking online profiles.

Laura Suchoski is a former four-time All-American field hockey player from Duke University who uses her experience as a competitive athlete, and someone who has worked in social media for several years, to craft a message that seems to resonate with teens.

Suchoski says she does this by suggesting that young adults look at social media as a game.

"You can win that game by using social media to empower yourself and move yourself in to these great opportunities like a great career, a great college, building a strong reputation," she said.

As to how to use social media as an advantage, first Suchoski advises "playing to your core" and who you are as a person.

"That's the values you believe in, that's who you are authentically, and you need to reflect that on your social media posts," she said.

Second, Suchoski recommends "surrounding yourself with a great team," meaning the people you approve as friends or follow on various sites.

"So you want to be surrounded by this team that empowers you," she added.

Third, Laura advises teens to "remember that you are always greater than the sum of your 'likes.'"

"Many teenagers are playing this game of social media to get as many "likes" as possible," Suchoski said. "That's playing the game the wrong way - going after likes, and you need to see that long-term win of a positive reputation and what it can do for your life."

So, her advice, in short, is to be the best "you" you can be, but try to focus more on your passions, interests and activities and less on "you," personally.

For example, try posting less "selfies" and instead showcase more shots of others and the world around you.

Another tip she passes along is to manage your settings so that you can control the pictures you're tagged in, and offer to be the one taking the pictures in social settings so you can control what gets captured and posted.

Suchoski also advises parents to not try to pull their children away from social media, but to have honest, open conversations about the do's and don'ts of online profiles.

In addition to speaking at schools, Suchoski does workshops and coaching sessions. For more information, visit www.LauraSuchoski.com or to email her directly at laura.suchoski@mckinney.com.

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