Did you know that 75% of teenagers nowadays owns a cell phone? Did you also know that 22% of them log on to their favourite social media site more than 10 times a day? A number of young children, those even younger than thirteen, participate in social media activity, and much of the preadolescent and adolescent social interaction happens on cell phones or on social networking sites.
Aside from Facebook and Twitter, social networking websites such as Instagram and Snapchat have exploded in recent years. Social networking is a way of connecting people, and young surfers, particularly have become zealous supporters of this technologically advanced way to connect with the wider world around them. In fact, kids are jumping on new social media platforms all the time, regardless of age limits.
There’s no denying how social media has become part of the people’s lives today, but there are also potential risks and dangers of the social web especially for the younger generation. Understanding these risks and encouraging safe and responsible use of the Internet are essential in keeping the young surfers safe online.
Dangers and Risks of Social Networking for Children
A lot of kids and teenagers are posting a tremendous amount of information online and they do not understand the risks involved in giving out too much personal information on the Internet. Divulging personal details such as a mobile phone number or an address could post a real threat to them and their family.
Social media can easily be used to harm and humiliate others. As stated by the U.S. Legal Definitions, “cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person on the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them”.
Some people use the internet to harass, intimidate, disturb and terrorise other people. The common characteristics of cyberstalking include monitoring, threats, false accusations and data manipulation. It also involves exploitation of minors, whether sexually or otherwise.
Exposure to age-inappropriate content
Almost everything is accessible on the Internet, including harmful content that is not suitable for children and young people. Inappropriate content includes pornographic materials, pictures and videos or games which show images of violence or cruelty to other people or animals, and gambling sites.
Most parents are aware of the dangers and risks associated with social networking for children and defending them against these threats may appear to be overwhelming. Being educated and staying current with Internet safety issues can help parents protect and keep their children safe in the virtual space.