It would seem that the target audience for the majority of social media apps keeps getting younger. With this shift in online culture comes many new dangers for parents and teens. Raising a new generation of kids strictly on the internet is going to have serious consequences. Allowing young children to roam the endless hallways of the World Wide Web is already having detrimental effects.
For example, take a teenager in California who is to pursue social media app Snapchat over allegations of sexual exploitation on the platform. She was the victim of a predatory attack by an elderly person who also used the app to receive sexually explicit photos from minors. This should raise a number of red flags that this has been allowed to happen for as long as it has. Unfortunately, his story is not unique. This same thing is happening to hundreds of teenagers across the country. Predators who linger around these apps consistently get away with this type of online behavior. It doesn’t help that child victims of such abuse are too afraid to talk about their personal experiences.
Social media apps like Snapchat are particularly dangerous for minors, simply because they are among the most popular among the age group. The nature of the app means that photos and conversations are automatically deleted, which could encourage some users to send things they otherwise wouldn’t. Apps like Snapchat provide a false sense of security, which can lead minors to make poor decisions. Social media apps like instagram have started checking users’ birthdays, to make sure they are over 13. While these age checks are a step in the right direction, they really don’t guarantee anything. A user can simply lie when asked about the app. The recently added feature feels like an added safeguard to ensure that the company can protect itself from future lawsuits.
The responsibility ultimately rests with the parents. After all, it’s their job to make sure their kids are safe on the internet. Yet, without realizing it, they are fueling their children’s phone addiction. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that giving a kid an iPad and unlimited internet access probably isn’t the best idea. It’s safe to say that we’ve entered this new digital age of “iPad Babieswith a whole generation of toddlers already addicted to a digital screen. While we may not yet know the repercussions of this new form of parenting, we can only assume that they are going to be bad. On TikTok, for example, kids are constantly loose on the app and are constantly create and consuming content – content that probably isn’t appropriate for them to watch in the first place.
Of course, blaming the parents alone would be a mistake. These social media platforms need to do better to ensure minors stay off their sites. Some might argue that we need to create child-friendly spaces on the internet for children. While they might be from a good place, that won’t solve the problem. The fact is that the Internet, as it is now, is not a place for children of any age. We already know for a fact that apps like Instagram have inaugurated in a new generation of eating disorders and body image issues. Children and teenagers are among the most vulnerable members of society, and failing to protect them online would be a big mistake.
These online platforms really need to take the time and find ways to prevent children from accessing their sites. Other social media platforms should follow the steps of YouTube Kids, which only allows streaming family content to its users. While this still promotes the idea among parents that it’s okay to allow your child to watch hours of video content, at least you can be reassured that they won’t stumble upon right-wing propaganda. alternative or predatory information.
Nevertheless, until social media apps can provide proper ways to keep youngsters on their platforms, parents have only one solution: keep your kids off social media. Although the task may seem impossible to many parents, it is necessary. In the meantime, we should continue to believe young people when they tell their stories of abuse. We should push these social media platforms to constantly strive to do better.