The impact of social media on children
Social media are the websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking (O’Keeffe 800). In the modern world, social media is the rage and has greatly changed the way people interact with each other. It has reduced the time used in relaying communication from one person to another. Social media offers a platform for enhancing a child’s knowledge, learning new skills, and exchanging ideas with other children and people from far areas. In as much as social media has brought positive effects to children, the negative effects it has brought to children surpasses the positive effects. Social media has had great negative effects on children.
Children using Facebook and other social media are exposed to many forms of hate speech from other users of the same social media (O’Keeffe 801). The hate speech used on the children will affect their self-esteem as it will be stuck on their mind. The hate speech will always be targeted to physical appearance like weight, race, and gender. The hate speech used on social media is by people by unknown identities because they know they cannot be tracked. The problem of hate speech on social media is more serious on the girl child.
Children often do not fully read or understand the privacy settings of their account. They are unaware of the risks involved in disclosing unnecessary personal information (O’Keeffe 801). Such kids are prone to be victims of identity theft where the thief will use the information of the kid including pictures and personal details and open an account with them. They will use the information for malicious purposes that most of the time will land the kid into trouble with schoolmates and even teachers. According to a recent survey, 20% of children are victims of identity theft in social media.
In recent years cyber stalking has been very rife in most of the social media platforms. Children are exposed to obsessive stalkers who monitor all their moves and with ill intentions (O’Keeffe 802). The stalkers can be serial killers whom may try to lure the children to their places and kill the children to satisfy their needs. Others may be rapists who may be pedophiles who are just interested in having sexual activities with an innocent child. All these are made possible by the presence of the children on social media and their need to interact with many people in order to create networks.
Explicit or violent imagery
There are many explicit images and violent content that are shared on the social media platforms by malicious people. The images can be pornography materials or even violent images of hurt people or even dead people. The children are exposed to such content that will have a negative effect on their growing up. They can start doing wrong thing like engaging in drugs and early sexual activities that will be harmful to them in the long run. Social media has really changed children and removed their innocence due to such content shared in the platforms. The chance of children being affected and influenced is very high due to their lack of experience in dealing with such things.
Online grooming is one of the most distressing aspects of social media. There are many pedophiles who use fake accounts on the platforms and fake friendships with young children (Strasburger 957). They pretend to be of the same with children to win their confidence. They use this contact to make sexual contact with the children. The children are submissive to the pedophiles because they take their time to get into the head of the children to the point of manipulation. They can infect the children with dangerous diseases and also expose them to some very dangerous activities. Social media makes it easier for the pedophiles to reach the children.
Lack of interpersonal skills
Children spending too much time online makes them to consider replacing the virtual relationship with the real one (Strasburger 958). They ignore the importance of face to face contact with other people. This will make it challenging for the children to be absorbed into job markets and make meaningful impact in the future. Spending too much time on social media makes the children to grow into social misfits which is harmful to the full development into adulthood.
In the current world children waste a lot of time on social media platforms to the point of neglecting other meaningful activities. Quality studying is compromised as children are eager to get out of school jut to get home and log into their social media accounts instead of doing their assignments. Actually the time wasted makes the children avoid performing any physical activities. This has led to an increased level of obesity among the children due to lots of inactivity. The obesity leads to chronic illness like diabetes and hearts problems for the young children. All these diseases can be avoided if the access to social media among the children is regulated. The famous author John Green said, ‘I wish I knew how to quit you social media’ (Strasburger 961). Quitting is one big challenge any social media user experiences after getting addicted to it.
Social media depression
Children always want acceptance by their peers in every level. When the peers of children mock them on social media and neglect them they are bound to develop depression (Strasburger 959). The child can be made a laughing stock among the peers due to lack of knowledge on a new trend. This depression when not checked can lead the children into doing bad things like committing suicide. There should be guidance and counselling programs for such children to save them from doing any harm to themselves due to lack of acceptance. Without check on the activities on social media by children, a bad calamity can befall the children.
Children are exposed to threatening behaviors by people in the social media platforms that they are in. the bullies will send threatening messages to the messages to the children to the point of threatening to kill them or their loved ones if they dare tell anyone (Strasburger 960). This is so dangerous as the children being bullied will grow up with a timid attitude and also it will affect their relationship with other people whom they encounter face to face as they will have the phobia of being bullied by them. In extreme levels, cyber bullying can greatly change children and turn them into bad people like serial killers or even rapists when they grow up. This is because they will have the notion that if you instill fear in someone then you have total control over them and they will be submissive to you without questioning anything that you tell them.
Social media has very many negative effects as discussed above. All the vices discussed above that are brought about by social media can be catastrophic to children as they grow up into adulthood. In order to protect children, there must be strict laws developed to regulate the activities of children on social media platforms. Children should also be offered guidance on how to manage various experiences on social media. As Albert Einstein said, ‘Technological process is like an axe in the hand of pathological criminal’ (Strasburger 960). This clearly shows that the social media platform if not checked and regulated can have a devastating effect on the human population at large.
O’Keeffe, Gwenn Schurgin, and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson. “The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families.” Pediatrics 127.4 (2011): 800-804.
Strasburger, Victor C., et al. “Children, adolescents, and the media.”Pediatrics 132.5 (2013): 958-961.