With messaging becoming an even more important connection tool over the past year, that’s also increased negative interactions in messaging apps, and harmful exchanges, which can cause significant mental and emotional impacts, whether intentional or not.

With this in mind, Facebook recently worked with psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos to establish a new framework designed to help users set healthy boundaries for their DM interactions, and avoid potentially concerning chats – which, really, is key info for any messaging user to have.

As you can see in this decision tree diagram, Facebook’s overview outlines how users can identify concerning interactions, and when they should take a step back. The overview also points to the various tools in Messenger, including its block and report functions, establishing a simple process to help users better manage these situations.

As explained by Messenger:

“Sometimes, people can overstep our boundaries online – whether they mean to or not. To spot the warning signs, Dr. Papadopoulos says: “It might sound basic, but check your own temperature – how am I feeling? Am I feeling anxious? Am I noticing my feelings change? If you feel a bit worse about yourself every time you speak to a certain person – or if even thinking about speaking to that person makes you feel anxious – that’s a huge red flag.”

The information could be especially helpful for younger users, who are currently reliant on such tools to maintain social connection, amid ongoing social distancing mandates. It can be more difficult, at times, for these users to identify such risks and concerns, and by providing a clear framework, that could help to alleviate unwanted stress, and distress, via these apps.

As noted, Facebook also highlights its various tools that can be used to reduce tension, like switching off active status to reduce expectation of immediate response, or changing your delivery controls to decide who goes to your Message Request folder, and who can’t message you at all. 

“If you do need to take action to reaffirm those boundaries, you can:

  • Report a message you’ve received if you think it goes against the Messenger Community Standards
  • Going a step further, you may wish to Block a contact, so they will no longer be able to reach you at all. And don’t worry, Messenger won’t tell them that you’ve blocked or reported them.”

Again, amid increased reliance on digital connection tools, and the recent revelations about the mental impacts that such interactions can have, it is worth taking note of these tips, and ensuring that you and your family are digitally literate, and aware of the available tools and options.

You can download a larger version of the decision tree graphic here.

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