My Opinion on Whether or Not Social Sites Should Have an Appropriate Age

In today’s society, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become popular social sites. It’s not uncommon to find one’s mother, father and even their grandparent’s on social media. While we may find the idea of 70 year old grandparents on Facebook funny, is it also funny when we see a 10 year old with a profile? This is an issue that many have debated.

The main issues surrounding children having social media stem from their innocence and their naivety. Many children have become victims of bullying when they send pictures of themselves to people pretending to be other than they are. These children they face relentless threats and blackmail to continue sending the images to the often times “pedophile” adult who in turn sends the images to others who pay for them for their own perverted pleasure. Another form of bullying though not a part of social media directly is the bullying that does on amongst children in school.

Oftentimes, this bullying stems from a social media post being considered disrespectful to another student leading to them fighting with one another. There was a recent case in the media where several high school girls were involved in a school fight in which a young girl was murdered simply because she posted a picture of her “Male Crush Monday” on social media. This seemingly innocent post led bullying which quickly spiraled out of control. Throughout this paper, I will explore these issues as well as give my perspective on whether or not I believe there is an appropriate age for children to join social media.

Perhaps the main issue that surround children being on social media sites is their innocence. For a pre-teen who is on a social media site, they may genuinely believe that the older guy giving them compliments merely wants to be their friend. They may like the fact that he/she is so nice to them and promises them that they will buy them expensive things. In their minds, they don’t see danger; they see a friend who understands them and who cares for them. However, this is often times a misconception that can prove to be deadly. According to GuardChild, 55% of teens have given out personal information to someone they don’t know, including photos and physical descriptions (GuardChild). For an innocent child, sharing their physical descriptions and where they go to school may be nothing, but for a pedophile, this information is all they need to take advantage of their intended victim.

The pedophile becomes so obsessed with the child that he/she will do whatever is possible to try to manipulate the child into believing that they are truly their friend and want to give them the things that they are lacking at home. Some pedophiles will even manipulate the child into entering into a relationship with him/her. Often times, these acts of manipulation go unnoticed because the pedophile constantly tells the child that if their parents find out they would have to end their relationship and for an innocent child, the idea of losing the one person who they feel truly understand them is too much to bear so they go along with hiding the relationship often times until it is too late.

However, in the instances when the child does end the relationship, the pedophile isn’t willing to let go and uses intimidation and bullying tactics in order to force the child into compliance. All of this is just too much to handle for a child and without proper intervention; the consequences can prove to be deadly. Cyberbullying, when directly or indirectly linked to suicide, has been referred to as cyberbullicide (Hindjua and Patchin, 2014). Cyberbullying and cyber harassment are two prevalent ways to lead to prosuicide behavior. Cyberbullying typically refers to when a child or adolescent is intentionally and repeatedly targeted by another child or teen in the form of threats or harassments or humiliated or embarrassed by means of cellular phones or Internet technologies such as e-mail, texting, social networking sites, or instant messaging (Luxton, 2012).

Cyber harassment and cyber stalking typically refer to these same actions when they involve adults (Luxton, 2012). A review of data collected between 2004 and 2010 via survey studies indicated that lifetime cyberbullying victimization rates ranged from 20.8% to 40.6% and offending rates ranged from 11.5% to 20.1% (Hindjua and Patchin, 2010). In recent news, there was a case in Delaware that involved a recent case of social media bullying. This surrounded two girls who got into an altercation surrounding a male at the school. It seemed initially as two girls fighting over the popular guy but things turned quickly south when a fight ensued.

The two girls met in a school bathroom before school started and began to fight. The fight grew when a group of girls joined in and began attacking the other girl, Amy. Amy was forced to her knees where her head was hit on the bathroom sink causing her to lose consciousness. All of this was recorded while other girls in the background were cheering on those who were mercilessly beating on Amy. As a result, Amy was murdered and now there are several teenagers who are out of school and who may be charged with murder. However, this is not the end of this situation. After the incident, on social media, those in the school began bullying the girls accused of murdering Amy and were recorded jumping the girl in question at a school sporting event.

This mob action was also recorded and was shared on social media in the same way the fight and subsequent murder Amy was posted on social media. Bullying has taken on a new light and it seems like it’s being done for popularity as well. Bullying from other peers or sex offenders is yet another risk associated with children who join social media. According to Echosec, cyber-bullying is a very real problem and is very hard to find. In the past, bullying more often remained in the schoolyard or classroom. Teachers could identify problems sooner and victims were given a brief reprieve at the end of the day. Today, however, with students often leading the discovery and use of social media and technology, educators, counsellors, and liaison officers are scrambling to catch up. Now, the bullying dynamic has evolved into a persistent, online, presence that students struggle to escape from and can become a permanent feature in their lives harming their future development (Echosec).

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