Filed under: Social media
A Warfighter’s online behavior can affect his or her military career, so it’s important to maintain a respectful online presence. According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), inappropriate use of social media can lead to punishable consequences. While UCMJ doesn’t include specific language about social media, keep in mind that general punitive codes might be applied to harmful conduct online.
Examples of online conduct unbecoming of service members are often made public through news and media. There’s no reasonable expectation of privacy on social media forums, where actions and behaviors can be witnessed by others—and subsequently reported for disciplinary action. Remember: Service members are never off-duty when representing the country and those who honorably served before them. Social media use comes with both benefits and dangers to consider as well. Young service members have grown up with social media as a constant presence in their lives, while older generations still might feel like they’re navigating unchartered territory. It can be difficult to recognize what constitutes a punishable offense. Posting derogatory comments about superior officers, disparaging the president and other government officials, and commenting inappropriately with offensive, discriminatory, or racist language are all punishable offenses.
Current events have inspired many to share their views and engage in discussions about what matters to them. The guiding principle for appropriate behavior should be rooted in the honor and respect deserved by the uniform. Warfighters represent the best our country has to offer, and their online conduct and etiquette always should reflect high standards.
Visit the DoD Social Media Hub for updated policies and links to social media portals for each service branch. And learn more about behavior that’s punishable by UCMJ:
- Article 88: Contempt toward officials
- Article 89: Disrespect toward superior commissioned officer
- Article 91: Insubordinate conduct toward warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer
- Article 133: Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman
- Article 134: General article
Posted 13 March 2017
Time spent with smartphones, tablets, and computers can impact your ability to get healthy sleep. The primary culprit is exposure to blue light that’s emitted from all electronic devices. Using them at night can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and suppress the secretion of melatonin, a powerful sleep hormone. When your eyes are exposed to artificial light, you might feel more awake when you should be getting ready to wind down. Try these tips to minimize the impact of blue light:
- Set a “2-hour” rule. Turn off handheld devices and televisions at least 2 hours before bedtime. And dim the lights at home. Try to avoid lying in bed and scrolling social media and email before bedtime too. If you happen to read something stress-inducing or upsetting, your day might end on a negative note. Try reading a book, journaling, or reflecting on something you feel grateful for instead.
- Block the blue. If you can’t avoid electronic devices before bed, some tools can help offset blue-light exposure. Many mobile devices come equipped with blue-light reducing functions already installed. You also can purchase blue-light blocking glasses with amber lenses. Or download software that adjusts the light on your screen, depending on the time of day and your location.
- Use light wisely. Not all light exposure is bad. Head outside into real sunlight, especially when it’s early, so you can sleep better at night. Leverage blue-light exposure appropriately during the day, if possible. It can boost your energy and readiness, increase alertness, and enhance cognitive function and mood.
Screens and devices are unavoidable. Still, they’re often an important part of daily life. Understanding their effects on sleep can help you choose how and when to make best use of technology. To learn more about blue-light exposure, visit the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) web page.
The average person spends almost 2 hours each day on social media, probably without considering its impact on well-being and productivity. Maintaining connectedness to friends and family, plus almost instantaneous access to information, are some of the reasons people are drawn to social media. However, for some people, social media usage can lead to increases in depression and anxiety.
Exposure to cyber-bullying and incivility can skew your view of human nature. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can grow if you have a lot of “friends” on social media but don’t have good-quality interactions with some of them, or worse, if you neglect other relationships in your life. Social media impacts your attention and productivity by distracting you and taking your attention away from the task at hand.
How can you make the best of social media?
- Set clear boundaries on how much and when you will use social media. Look for tools to block sites during times when you need to remain present and task-focused.
- Beware of social comparison, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or envy. Remember that people only post what they want others to see, and comparing yourself to others can become destructive.
- Be selective of what you see in your feed to prioritize what contributes to your life, and filter out what takes away from it. Emotions—positive and negative—are contagious. Monitor how time spent on social media impacts how you feel, and make adjustments accordingly.
- Disconnect often if you find that you’re spending too much time engaged with your devices. Practice being more present with your friends, spouse, and family. Work toward gaining more face-to-face time with those who mean most to you.
Finally, conduct on social media can have real consequences for Warfighters. You can find general guidelines and review component-specific policies on this DoD CIO web page.
Sports products and dietary supplements are often discussed on social media, but think twice before taking other’s word for it. A recent article in the British Medical Journal notes that claims and endorsements made on social media such as Facebook & Twitter are not regulated and may promote statements that have not been supported by science. Some red flags noted include:
- Paid endorsers. Do you know that some comments and images about a product can come from people (celebrities and non-celebrities) paid by companies to post great reviews about their products? Be careful that such claims may be coming from a paid sponsor and may exaggerate their results from a product.
- Endorsed hashtags. The hashtag such as “#ad” is a disclosure recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to indicate that a social media post is coming from someone being paid (or otherwise reimbursed) by the company of the product they are endorsing. If such a hashtag appears in a social media post, then you know that it is sponsored and may be biased. (For more about FTC’s new endorsement guidelines, visit their FAQs web page.)
- Biased research. Assessing the science behind claims is the best way to evaluate a product. However, a common practice is that companies cite their own labs and research. When it comes to dietary supplements, it’s best to get information about products from unbiased, evidence-based organizations such as Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, United States Pharmacopeias (USP), or NSF International.
- Unbalanced comments. When you scroll through a product’s social media page, do you find that all the reviews are positive? On platforms such as Facebook, companies have the ability to delete comments. A transparent company usually addresses negative comments and provides support to establish its position.
Look for these and other red flags when it comes to dietary supplements and their advertising. If you have a question about a particular sports product or dietary supplement and can’t find the answer on HPRC’s website, please use our “Ask The Expert” button located on the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) home page.
Social media is great for staying connected with your friends and family, but you can also use it to your performance advantage by keeping up with information from reputable sources. HPRC’s social media and four others are reliable sources for great health and total fitness information for Warfighters, military families, and civilians. They also allow you to voice your opinion, ask a question, and interact directly with organizations. But remember: Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it true. To get answers that are evidence-based, start here:
Posts evidence-based information on all components of human performance optimization
Operation Supplement Safety [Facebook]
Posts and answers questions on dietary supplements and how to use them wisely
Provides educational and inspirational messages around psychological health and resilience
Provides comprehensive military health and wellness information
Shares articles, blogs, and photos about military family life and wellness
Visit the MHS Social Media Directory for more great organizations you can follow.