There is a never-ending debate about social media for kids; whether or not it is a good thing. Many strongly oppose the use of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms by kids. Few support it. Do you? Because we do not and here is why:
1. Social Media Can Be a Significant Threat to Children's Safety
One of the primary reasons why social media for kids should be restricted is safety. Just like grownups, children become vulnerable to criminals on social media. Their personal details (which can be used to cause harm) become easily accessible by third parties.
According to an academic study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, ninety one percent of children that use Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms post a photo of themselves (up from 79% in 2006). Seventy-one percent post their school name (up from 49%) and another seventy-one percent post the city or town where they live (up from 61%), Likewise, fifty-three percent post their email address (up from 29%) as twenty percent post their mobile phone number (up from 2%).
This is a mind-blowing security threat to children. As a result, many kids have been scammed and blackmailed in worst-case scenarios. Even if they take certain steps to safeguard their data, kids are still susceptible to hacking.
2. Social Media Can Take Away Children's Privacy
The second reason why social media for kids should be restricted is privacy. Social media phenomenon significantly takes away children's privacy. Thousands or even millions of individuals around the globe can see anything that kids post online.
What's more, with features such as notifications that pop up whenever social media users log into their accounts, it becomes very difficult for kids to use some of these platforms without their stalkers knowing.
Although some have features that allow users to be anonymous, usually, many kids are not aware of these or do not even know how to utilise them. Consequently, their stalkers know every time they log into their accounts and they can bother them with messages or pictures however they like. Social media is a serious privacy issue for children that needs to be re-looked.
3. Children Create Social Media Accounts with Uninformed Decisions
The third reason why social media for kids should be greatly opposed is kids lack the ability to make informed decisions. This is simply because they are kids. They are unable to make proper calls around joining Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms.
Contrary to adults who would decide to sign up simply because they want to connect with family and friends, or reach out to potential clients, kids would join simply because other kids have it. It is dangerous to throw yourself into something without a clear objective. You may end up disappointed. Even if a child compels their parent to open an account, it cannot be regarded as an informed decision.
4. Social Media Can Have a Negative Impact on Children's Psychological Well-being
For your information, social media is not a bad thing, it’s a great platform to socialise if used appropriately. However, for most users it’s all about being “liked or followed” by others. Essentially, your satisfaction is based around the number of “likes” and "followers" that you have. That is it and nothing else.
Becoming obsessed with these unimportant satisfactions can have a detrimental impact on not only children's psychological well-being but also adults'. Many times we have heard of or witnessed cases where somebody went into depression simply because they did not get enough "likes" for their photo or post. If a whole grownup, (somebody with a mature brain) can allow this to happen to them, what would you expect from a kid with a juvenile brain? We really should minimise social media for kids, at least until a certain age (what is an appropriate age is probably a discussion or a blog on its own).
5. Social Media Can Have a Detrimental Impact on Children's Self Esteem and Confidence
Another reason why social media for kids should be restricted is self-esteem. Children tend to have more self-esteem issues than adults do. Social media worsens this problem. For many kids, the likes and great comments that they get for their pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is the decisive factor when it comes to judging their appearance. Getting fewer likes, fewer great comments and fewer shares can lead to low self-esteem and lack of confidence for them. Social media gives them a false impression that they are not good looking enough, despite the fact that they are.
6. Social Media Promotes Peer Pressure
Social media for kids should be limited because it promotes peer pressure. There is so much destructive influence and pressure from members of one's peer group on there at any one time. For example, in a certain study, 75% of the kids admitted the fact that the pressure to blend in after seeing posts of their peers openly drinking alcohol and taking drugs compelled them to adopt this behaviour. As you can see, there really needs to be more proactive campaigns against social media for kids.
7. Social Media Pushes Children to Make Friends with Strangers Carelessly
According Pew Research Center study, thirty-three percent of kids are Facebook friends with other people they have not met in person. Another survey conducted by Sophos found forty-one percent of participants were willing to accept Facebook friend requests from strangers and even provide personal information in that process. This is quite alarming isn’t it?
Being friends with strangers is not a good thing, especially for children. After all, not everybody on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms is legit. Some individuals would like to use kids to get access to their parents' personal details for ill purposes. There is no doubt about the fact that it is high time the authorities did something about social media for kids.
There are many reasons why social media for kids is not a good thing. First, it poses a significant threat to children's safety. Second, it takes away their privacy. Third, children are not able to make informed decisions around opening social media accounts, so they do it while completely oblivious of the dangers that are involved. Fourth, social media can have a negative impact on children’s psychological well-being, which may lead to other serious problems. The list of social media drawbacks to kids is an endless one. So, do you support social media for kids? Hopefully not, after reading this article and understanding its drawbacks.
Pew Research Center (2013). Teens, Social Media, and Privacy. http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/05/21/teens-social-media-and-privacy/