This video went viral on social media.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you take the time to watch it. Be prepared. You’ll feel the need to go clean your concealed carry within seconds of the video starting. It’s heartbreaking and gut-wrenching.
In this project, Bark, a technology monitoring company for parents, sent a 37-year old woman undercover on social media as an 11-year old girl. What they discovered was sickening. Within seconds of launching the fake profile, they received multiple communications from various online predators.
It’s no surprise that there are many dangers of social media for our kids. In a society that runs on technology and online presence, it’s important that we understand the dangers and equip our children to be wise in their social media usage.
Here are the top five dangers of social media for your kids:
Danger #1: Predators
Social Media is a hunting ground for your child’s heart, mind, body and personal information. Predators are everywhere – ready to fight against everything you are doing to protect your kids.
Predators prey against:
- Personal Information – In looking through your child’s posts, someone can quickly discover an encyclopedia on personal information. Social Media feeds often reveal to the world your child’s schedule, school info, city of residence, birthdates, and so much more.
- Kid’s Heart, Mind and Body – Advanced technology makes contact with our kid’s easy for online predators. Ten years ago, predators could get information via chatroom by asking “ASL?” – or Age, Sex, Location. Today, predators can send direct messages and video chat your children with the click of a button. They use this access into your child’s life to build relationships, grooming them for sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and human trafficking.
Danger #2: Early Exposure
As dads, we need to limit our child’s exposure to social media. One of the best ways to do this, is to put off getting them a smart phone for as long as possible. Children are being exposed to the damaging effects of Social Media at a very young age.
Early exposure can be addictive. In it’s addictive nature it causes discontentment, anxiety and depression. It also interferes with children’s ability to socially interact. Not to mention, the damaging effects of our kid’s being exposed to explicit content at an early age. We will discuss these emotional and mental dangers later in the article. The point is that earlier exposure to social media greatly effects our children’s mental and emotional health. Social Media is stripping the childhood from our kid’s lives.
Danger #3: Cyber Bullying
What is cyber bullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior. (https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it)
The cyber bullying statistics are unreal:
- About 50% of young people have been bullied online
- Between 10-25% experience cyber bullying regularly
- Only 10% of teens will tell their parents if they are bullied online
- Girls and boys participate in bullying equally
- Girls are more likely to be harrassed or insulted, while boys are threatened more often
Kids can be extremely cruel – especially in the online world of comparison. The added barrier of hiding behind a screen has taken bullying to an entire new level. Bullies can screenshot your child’s picture or a comment, create a meme, and share it with an entire school in a matter of minutes. They can also send direct messages to your children, keeping the cyber bullying hidden from the outside world.
Danger #4: Discontentment
Our kids are already self-conscious due to the changing nature of their bodies and brain chemistry. Social Media adds an entire new danger – the danger of the world influencing how they think about themselves and their lives.
Our kids are facing loads false marketing online, leading to social comparison and reduced self-esteem. The more they see airbrushed images of people and picture-perfect moments of time, the more their view of reality will continually be tainted.
Danger #5: Emotional/Mental Health
Overall, each of these dangers has an effect on our kid’s emotional and mental health.
- Addiction – As kid’s develop their social media presence, it easily becomes an extension of themselves. They become addicted. When they aren’t able to engage with that part of their lives, they are often overcome with anxiety.
- Social Interaction – Adolescent years are so important in the social development in kid’s lives. Instead of learning to interact face to face, many children are learning to build relationships with screens – leaving them very lacking in real social skills.
- Physical Heath – More time spent on social media means less time spent playing outside. Obesity is on the rise as our kids are becoming more addicted to living life online.
What can we do?
1. Have a Social Media Contract
Before you give your child a phone and/or allow social media accounts, be sure to set up a social media contract for your family. Make it mandatory that social media accounts are to be open books. No phones allowed in bedrooms or other private spaces. No phones at dinner and have technology-free time in your home.
2. Be Present
Don’t be afraid of being present in your child’s social media life. Know their passwords. Check their messages. Know who their friends are. Look for strange signs and don’t ignore them. Check for “finsta” accounts – a fake Instagram profile that they hide from you. It is better to be overly present than to miss something important.
What to teach your kids?
1. Privacy Matters
Nothing is private on social media. Be sure to teach your kids that once they post something, it is available for the world to see. Even when accounts are set to private, a friend can easily screenshot and share something.
Also, make sure your kids know that their timeline and feeds are open books for predators. It’s not hard to figure out location, school, daily schedule, etc. by browsing someone’s social account.
2. Be Honest
Kids often don’t share online approaches from strangers, because they think they will get in trouble. Don’t shame your kids. Make sure they know that if someone they don’t know messages them online, that you want to know. They also need to know that if someone bullies them online, they can come to you. Be on their side. Work with them, not against them. By teaching them to be open and honest, you can avoid a lot of hurt.
It’s so important that we are aware of what’s happening on our child’s social media accounts. Technology is taking over this generation one step at a time. We must be present and we must teach our kid’s to be vigilant of the many dangers that accompany online presence.