|The Relationship of Social Networking and Children|
Who says social networking is only for adults? In this age and time, the type of freedom provided by the internet has enabled people of all ages to communicate and interact online with no limits. That means that Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are not exclusively for teens and adults, but are accessible to children as well. But the problem many parents have is whether to allow their kids to conveniently and freely join social networking sites.
As in the case of Facebook and MySpace, children below thirteen are theoretically not allowed to join, and that is for good reason. There are many things that a child should not be exposed to in these sites. And while it is a good ground for establishing friendly relationships with other people, one must ask if it is worth the child being exposed to all the negative side effects.
In reality however, the age restriction is just plain useless. A twelve year old child can easily lie and pretend to be older when registeringin social networking sites. There is no specific way of verifying age and with that, a child just becomes more curious and intrigued to join because of the age restriction. Additionally, researchers contend that social media websites are in fact more than happy to accommodate them knowing that they contribute to additional audience and hits.
But what’s alarming about children joining Facebook and MySpace is the addictive nature of these sites. If adults can be totally hooked, children are more prone to addiction because of their inherent naiveté and tolerance to temptation and exploitation. When children become fully dependent on it, they take on a kind of mindset that will eventually make them mentally and physically stagnant. Because they find everything in social networking fun and satisfying, they don’t feel the need to do other things in their lives except for hooking up in social media sites.
Research has found out that most cases of cyber bullying, child trafficking, child pornography, and abuse were sourced at social networking sites. Offenders met their potential victims in them without the parents knowing. This signifies that there is zero security for children when it comes to online correspondence. But who’s to blame? Facebook and MySpace try to restrict kids from joining them in the first place.
This is where it hurts most. When children become victims of abuse and exploitation online, it is so easy to point a finger at the social media responsible for providing the venue. Although children merely use social networking to send messages to friends, play online games, or stream videos and photos, it does not change the fact that perverted individuals are also there to grab the opportunity to harm them.
Thus, we arrive to the question how young is too young when it comes to allowing children to join Facebook and other pertinent online networking tools? While most parents allow their children, others are pretty skeptical about it and we cannot blame them. Constant exposure to the computer may have negative effects on the brain. Also, kids become emotionally far from their family and will commonly subtract significant interest in school. You see, it’s plain and simple, once they’re addicted to social networking, there’s no other important thing in the world than being there in front of the computer and logging in to their accounts and profiles.
So in this world operated and run by technology, it is almost impossible to find a child who does not have a Facebook or MySpace account. As a parent, you have an important choice to make. You cannot escape the fact that the internet will play a major role in your child’s life, but that does not mean you also have to acquiesce to its negative consequences. There’s so much that you can do in order to defeat or prevent your child’s addiction to social media and networking.
Our suggestion is to at least respect the rules of these sites and do not allow your preteen or child to have an account. They can communicate with other friends through you and your account, perhaps, but restricting their personal use can teach them what it means to responsibly use technology. Just because one can do anything online, doesn’t mean one should.