The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families
By Said Murat, Computer Engineer, Social Media Expert
August 8, 2016
It’s obvious that using social media is among the most common activity of today’s children and teenagers. Any web platform that allows social interaction is considered a social media platform, including social networking sites, gaming sites and video sites. Such networking platforms offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication. That’s right. Yes? However, for this reason, it is important that parents should be aware of the nature of social media platforms, given that not all of them are healthy environments, even they are getting much bigger problem for our next generation, unfortunately. The problem is that, not all parents are aware of this dangerous environment for their children. Actually, most of them are defending that their kids cannot be in danger with using the Internet. This is a problem. We, somehow, should find a way to teach parents how they should get closer to their kids and protect them from the problems coming from the Internet. We should absolutely find a way to help families understand these platforms and to encourage healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems.
Adolescents: they are among the heaviest users of social networking.
Most of the Internet users are adolescents and teenagers. It is obvious. That’s why the influence of social media on adolescents and teenagers is of particular importance. One of the biggest reasons of this reality is that because they are among the heaviest users of social networking.
Cyberbullying: bullying as aggressive behavior by an individual that causes discomfort to another.
The American Psychological Association defines bullying as aggressive behavior by an individual that causes discomfort to another. Unfortunately, it is becoming much more familiar to children and parents. While direct unpleasant emails or messages are the most straightforward form of cyberbullying, they are probably the least prevalent in that only 13 percent of surveyed youngsters admitted to receiving threatening or aggressive messages. Even forwarding a private note to a group without permission from the sender is often perceived as cyberbullying. This happens a lot to kids, nowadays. Trolling, the act of deliberately inflicting hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, or just simple bickering between people, often anonymously, is also pervasive in social network.
Moreover, they especially find small kids, girls or boys, to make them feel terrible with cyberbullying them. It is spreading out all over the world without any control. Researches find out that, mostly people who are having trouble with their families, find others to make them feel the same as other problematic people.
A true story…
Yes, they know how to control your kid. We have seen a lot of examples for such a situation that 30-years-old man was trying to meet a 12-years-old girl. He finds her on Facebook and continued lying to her about everything until she showed all the messages to her daddy. This is awful!
A very important cause for cyberbullying is the anonymity possible on the Internet. According to Stopbullying.gov, two kinds of people are likely to be cyberbullies — the popular ones and those on the fringes of society; the former resort to such activities to stay popular or to feel powerful, while the latter troll to fit into a society or to get back at a society that excludes them.
Sexting, the action of sending sexually revealing pictures of themselves or sexually explicit messages to another individual or group, is another common activity among the teen community in social media. While teenage boys resort to sending sexually explicit or suggestive messages, teenage girls are more likely to send inappropriate photos of themselves, mostly to their boyfriends. That’s the problem. If we should be back to our topic, we should tell parents how and why they should be aware of the dangerous social media platforms.
The problem is not Social Media, but it is uncontrolled usage of Social Media!
Again, as it was mentioned before also, we should find a way to save our kids from any interruption of Social Media and Internet. However, the first point is to tell all the parents around the world that Internet is something amazing to discover the world. But it has to be under control with parents or guidance.
One more, true story…
It was even by a 10-years-old boy, studying in Brazil. He had access to Facebook during class and texted his friends very badly, tons of swearing. His friends were in shocked and told their parents, luckily.
This example obviously shows us that the problem is not only ‘sexting’, but also it’s affecting kids physiologically. What would you do if a man tries to reach your son or daughter and wants him/her? What about this one: he just wants to reach your kids to play with their emotions? You now might be thinking: ‘why is that possible?’ The answer is obvious as much as its question: it’s illness! Yes, some people feel better when others are getting much more problems physiologically. This is not our topic on this article, for now. However, parents should be aware of that there are thousands of people who love to play with your kids’ emotions.
Most of kids use technology differently than we do. They’re playing games online and sending texts on their phones at an early age, and most teens have devices that keep them constantly connected to the Internet. This is true, isn’t it? So, it is getting harder to control their access to Internet.
What about parental control softwares?
They are quite helpful, and you have to get one. However, still, the point begins with the parents. Parental control helps to not access adult pages, right. However, you cannot save your kid from social media platforms with such software. Sure, there might be a solution to block all the websites that you don’t want your kids to reach. However, it’s still not a ‘best’ solution in our case. Because, they do chat, they do text, they do watch… or playing games… Everything should be (even must be) under your control if you do not want to lose your kid against of Internet.
One more, true story…
This one happened in New Jersey, United States of America. One day, one of the students did not appear in the class. Secretary called his mom. Then, mom said ‘My son says that no school today’. She (secretary of the school) was surprised. The reason that he lied to his mom was very clear. One of his friends texted him that ‘tomorrow, we’ll to kick your face!’. He was so scared. An 8-years-old boy, was so scared to see his friends again, and lied to his mom. This happens a lot… We (educators, parents or siblings etc.) have to tell kids that they can trust us and should tell us if they have been cyberbullying by anyone. If they get scared and not tell you about it, it becomes a bigger problem.
What about school?
Teachers also should be aware of this problem and even have a class about it to tell students how they can help them. Because, students, kids, love to hear that they are safe. Then, they can share with their teachers what happened to them. Otherwise, when a kid stops talking about his or her problems, it becomes a bigger problems. So, schools also have to make something to encourage students and families to solve this problem out and then kids can grow up in a safe environment.
In Conclusion, every year, thousands of children, adolescents, and families have been affected of Social Media. In our century, having kids get much more responsibilities to their parents. Moreover, this subject is very important for educators as well as governments.
Cyberbullying is getting much more serious problem. So, we should come together to solve it out.
Computer Engineer & Social Media Expert
August 8, 2016