Use of Social Networks by Underage Children

Subject: Entertainment & Media
Pages: 4
Words: 1214
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College

Introduction

The social network is a completely fulfilling source of information and a means for the development of today’s children. This is because networks help kids present themselves, which is very significant at this age period.

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On the Internet, they have the opportunity to project their desired image to the public and master a multitude of social roles. Similar to real life, virtuality has its hierarchy, its leadership system, and a full range of all kinds of communications and ways of socialization. In order to learn about the world in reality, it is essential to make a lot of effort, especially to build relationships with someone. In social networks, everything is much easier for kids; all they need to do is have an account. However, network causes many problems related to cyberbullying, violence, and depression. Therefore, it is essential to assess the potentially harmful and positive effects on children.

Potential Threats from Online Insiders

One of the most serious types of danger on the Web for the younger generation is getting undesired information. It can be pornography, violence, drugs, gambling, forbidden ideology, and many other things. The disadvantage of social networks is that strangers can gain a child’s trust, become a true “friend,” and then involve them in criminal activity or extort data. Even adults cannot always identify abusers quickly, much fewer kids. In 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children obtained roughly 40,000 possible “online enticement” (Morse, 2021). The previous four years had registered an average of 16,000 similar cases annually.

Moreover, pedophiles also pose a particular danger as they first try to make friends with the child to show that they are on the same wavelength. A personal meeting is not necessary because someone can ask to send a photo or video of an intimate nature. After receiving one photo, the offender will start blackmailing the child and asking for more. Children under 18 are not always capable of critically evaluating information and often follow the influence of other people. They need to be on-trend, easily giving in to provocations, becoming a vulnerable subject for violations (Jackson et al., 2021). Social networks can push a kid into actions that are specially imposed on them, including the use of alcohol and drugs, which the Internet is teeming with.

Children Become Vulnerable to Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

Social networks, instant messaging applications, e-mail, forums, blogs, online video games, etc. are becoming platforms for cyberbullying. Internet bullying is a growing problem in many countries around the world. Malicious hazing can include the publication of rumors, threats, sexual remarks, and victims’ personal information. Bullying or harassment can be identified by repetitive behavior and intent to cause harm.

Cyberbullying, like all other bullying, is dangerous to the psychological health of the victims. Research demonstrates that bullying often leads people (especially children and adolescents) to depression and other disorders, they have lower self-esteem, and they show isolation and depression. At the same time, surveys in China indicate that the overall physical health of bullied children is also worse than that of other kids (Zhu et al., 2019). Therefore, parents should explain to children that there are many potential dangers in social media.

It should also be noticed that kids should not publish in the public domain personal information, such as phone numbers. Victims of cyberbullying become more frequent at night, so adults need to monitor their children’s phones to make sure they fall asleep without their devices (Cassidy et al., 2018). At the same time, another way to prevent cyberbullying is not to accept unfamiliar people as friends on social media because they can cause harm to the kid.

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Inferiority in Adult Life

The main danger of social networking for kids is that virtual communication becomes predominant in their lives. The young person becomes unaccustomed to human interaction. Unnoticeably for himself, often for his parents, he loses the skill of real contact and becomes addicted to the Internet. There are also challenges of identity when there is any inconsistency between the images of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’; this is a global problem (Ersoy, 2019). For example, in real life, the kid has trouble in communication; he is not the most popular in the class, the child has difficulties in relations with classmates.

However, in the Internet society, he can interact; the child openly communicates there, is very active, and everyone accepts and shows interest in him. Then the child realizes that the social network is not a real relationship. Gradually kid and his consciousness and emotions are fully immersed in the virtuality. He stops living and progressing in reality, creating a personal conflict from which the child most often cannot escape on his own. In addition, the teenager loses his sense of reality; his psyche is forced to process a large flow of information (Ersoy, 2019). At first, a child may enjoy the fact that, in reality, he has no problems with his parents or friends, but sometimes there is a feeling of depression. Thus, the kid no longer knows how to adapt to the real world, which entails more alienation and loneliness.

The Benefits of Using Social Media

In addition to threats, social networks provide many real opportunities, the benefits of which should not be underestimated. First and foremost, among these is the diversity of communication. Many children can be overly shy and have difficulties interacting. At the same time, social networks relieve them of these obstacles, allowing them to find friends, even in the other part of the earth. (Yonker et al., 2015). This way, the kid can not only meet the need to communicate but also learn a lot. This allows kids to become more confident, find like-minded peers, and transfer these useful skills to real life. For many children, social networks are a way to express themselves. They can freely share their thoughts, experiences, tastes, new acquisitions, and this opportunity should not be taken away.

Furthermore, the Internet is full of information, including books, language programs, lessons, and workshops. With the right approach, it can be an effective simulator for developing memory and logic (Pase et al., 2018). In the news feed, which is available on almost all social networks, the kid can learn the latest facts in different areas of interest in life. Thus, the child gets access to valuable resources; he is constantly developing and expanding horizons.

Conclusion

Social media has become an essential component of life, bringing benefits and harms at the same time. With the help of the Web, children can communicate, learn a lot of new things, search for relevant information and develop new skills and abilities. However, certain threats can harm everyone on the Internet. Unwanted content, violence, pornography, cyberbullying, and compulsive communication can negatively affect children’s psyche. Dangers can lurk at every step, and it is impossible to completely take away the ability to use social networks.

If parents see that they do not have a detrimental effect on the youth and his behavior remains the same, it is unnecessary to interfere in his personal space with constant prohibitions. A child is a person who must be respected, and improper actions will only lead to more conflicts and problems. However, all reasonable efforts should be adopted to teach children how to communicate in social networks properly.

References

Cassidy, W., Faucher, C., & Jackson, M. (2018). What parents can do to prevent cyberbullying: Students’ and educators’ perspectives. Social Sciences, 7(12), 251. Web.

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Ersoy, M. (2019). Social media and children. Handbook of Research on Children’s Consumption of Digital Media, 11-23. Web.

Jackson, D., Testa, A., & Fox, B. (2021). Adverse childhood experiences and digital media use among U.S. children. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 60(4), 462-470. Web.

Morse, D. (2021). With children stuck at home during coronavirus shutdowns, online sexual predators can swoop in. Proquest. Web.

Pase, C., Mathias, A., Garcia, C., & Garcia Rodrigues, C. (2018). Using social media for the promotion of education and consultation in adolescents who have undergone kidney transplant: Protocol for a randomized control trial. JMIR Research Protocols, 7(1), e3. Web.

Yonker, L., Zan, S., Scirica, C., Jethwani, K., & Kinane, T. (2015). “Friending” teens: Systematic review of social media in adolescent and young adult health care. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(1), e4. Web.

Zhu, Y., Li, W., O’Brien, J., & Liu, T. (2019). Parent-child attachment moderates the associations between cyberbullying victimization and adolescents’ health/mental health problems: An exploration of cyberbullying victimization among Chinese adolescents. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(17-18), NP9272-NP9298. Web.