Social media has become a huge part of modern life. It seems like everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat account. Social media sites are a fantastic way to keep up with friends, family, business, and even celebrities. Unfortunately, social media does have some drawbacks: especially concerning kids.
Most kids in middle school and high school do have some sort of social media account. Snapchat is a current favorite for a lot of students right now. Snapchat is an app in which you can send temporary videos and pictures to people you have added as friends. These videos and pictures are only available for a short period of time, usually a few seconds, before they permanently go away. While you can permanently add pictures and videos to your “story” or profile, the short-term aspect of the app is a major draw. The fleeting nature of Snapchat ensures that media sent through the app will not be retrievable at a later point in time. You can take screenshots of pictures sent through the app but if you do this, it will inform the sender that you took a screenshot.
Sadly, platforms like Snapchat are perfect for cyberbullying. Currently, there is a “game” going around Snapchat encouraging kids to insult physical appearance, build, or personality of other children. This kind of activity is not limited to Snapchat, however. This activity runs rampant on all social media sites. Some reports claim that 40% of kids have been bullied online and 70% have witnessed cyberbullying. The anonymity of the internet makes people more audacious because they feel that they can more easily get away with such activities and not have to face consequences for their actions.
Social media can also be dangerous in that not everyone is who they say they are. There have been many cases where someone has lied about their identity in order to obtain information and/or pictures from children and some have even tried to meet up with kids in real life. This is a very scary reality. Catfishing relationships can also be common on the internet. Catfishing is when someone lies about their identity in order to “date” someone they met online.
Ultimately, it’s very important that parents talk to their kids about social media and the internet in general. Kids need to know what to do if they are being bullied online or witness someone else being bullied. They also need to understand that not everyone can be trusted online. It’s better that they learn about these topics as soon as they start going online so that these circumstances won’t be foreign to them. Most kids aren’t looking to be involved in anything negative when they go online, it’s all for entertainment, connections with their friends, and fun. Just like in real life, we should be careful who we surround ourselves with. Especially since most of us spend so much time online.