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Social Network And Child

Social Networks and Children

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According to Daily Mail, more than fifty percent of children use social media before ten years of age, and over forty percent text strangers by the time they are twelve years (2014). In the current world, the internet, smartphones, and computers are widespread and with them the use of social networks. Social networks are all sites, which allow social interactions between users such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, and YouTube among many others. These platforms allow users to share images, videos, texts, news items, articles and many more in real time. The use of social networks traverses across all ages, from children to adults. There are social sites that are specific for children, while others are restrictive, specifying users to be at least thirteen years. However, age lying is common, such that children below thirteen years become users of such sites. The social sites are heavens for people of most age groups, facilitating interactions between peers as well as across ages. However, the use of social networks comes with both advantages and disadvantages. These platforms intertwine with the individuals personal lives because of the kind of personal information people give as well as the emotional experience they get while using. Although social networks have grave disadvantages for children and teenagers, they are advantageous by facilitation of socialization, enhanced learning opportunities, and health information accessible by users.

Social networks are socialization sites and they enable children to learn social skills necessary for their real-world lives. According to O’Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson (2011), staying connected with family and friends, making new friends, and exchanging ideas on social networking sites are the activities necessary for growth and development. Although they are accomplished online, they are a part of childrens lives, thus complementing their real-life communication. Social networks have created a place that has seen teens accomplish many things that they would have needed to realize offline. The sites keep many teens connected not only to friends but also their families. Children are able to live a better life by building self-esteem in various ways such as receiving positive comments from friends (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). The sites are sources of activities that occupy youth. Such include raising funds required for charity as well as offering voluntary service for local events. The creativity of teens is enhanced via sharing of endeavors and artistic ideas (Tartari, 2015). The sites are centers of learning for teenagers indoors. They keep them too busy to engage in activities that may harm them such as premarital sex (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The time a teen would have spent with others drinking is all taken by online chatting in their bedrooms. Chartrooms have become the meeting point where all jokes, discussions and every kind of event are meant to pass the time with pleasure. Class work is also discussed, and answers to various questions on different subjects get addressed (Palfrey, Gasser & Boyd, 2010). Any pupil that has forgotten anything regarding school learning can easily find it in these virtual rooms (Monash University, 2011). It is also a common thing today to find teens seeking help from older persons regarding issues of life they do not comprehend. The assistance is given without anyone noticing, since very often teens do not trust their parents or siblings.

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Social media allow the access of sensitive health information because of their anonymous nature. Children, mostly adolescents, find it challenging to consult about sensitive health and development issues with parents and others adults. Social media allow them to search for such information with anonymous identities, thus without a fear of intimidation or victimization. Teenagers can easily find and access information concerning their health via the internet. Favorable topics of interest such as sexually transmitted diseases, signs of depression and stress reduction are made available for the young online. Nonetheless, parents are advised to make proper follow-up of their childrens online sessions. They need to be monitored to ensure that they access only essential information that is not misleading. About 31% of teens have greatly used online resources to obtain information about issues such as dieting, physical fitness, and health information. Reports from teenagers who use the internet show that 17% of them use it for gathering information that would otherwise be hard to discuss amongst them (Palfrey et al., 2010).

Children also use social media extensively for learning purposes. Social networking platforms provide students with learning tools essential for skills development. Students in high school use the internet to connect with each other on homework and group projects through the social media platforms. For instance, Facebook, the dominant platform online, is frequently used to gather students outside classrooms to share ideas and collaborate in doing assignments. Reports show that social media have greatly influenced learning and educators are urged to embrace the new technology. Platforms such as blogs have exceedingly helped in reinforcing skills in English, creativity and the youngs ability of self-expression. Schools and learning institutions use such platforms as Blackboard to facilitate in-and-out-of-class learning where teachers and students can interact in a social but learning environment (Palfrey et al., 2010). Students get a chance to perfect the skills they have learned, under their instructors watch as well as with their peers reviews, in the out-of-class context. Therefore, social media has proven to be a useful tool offering necessary learning opportunities.

Social media platforms offer children crucial benefits, by allowing them to socialize, develop socialization skills, and providing them with learning opportunities. Connectivity possible in social media keeps children connected with others, thus developing socialization skills. The availability of information gives children learning opportunities, anonymously and also among their peers. Despite the remarkable benefits that social media offer to preadolescents and adolescents, they bring significant problems, such as cyberbullying, sexual harassment and sexting as well as Facebook depression, which necessitate further consideration.

Cyberbullying is the use of digital media to deliberately communicate hostile, embarrassing or false information regarding someone else. It can be defined as a group or individual making use of information in cold blood and communicating using electronic technologies to deliberately and repetitively harass or threaten other persons via posting or sending cruel information. Cyberbullying is explained as the most frequent risk for teens. It follows targets beyond the school gates. The use of the digital media establishes opportunities for emotional distress via receiving harassing, humiliating or threatening messages. It is the most rampant risk for pre-teenagers and teenagers and is similar in occurrence to the offline kind of bullying. In addition, cyberbullying can happen to any of the young people online causing damaging psychological outcome like depression, severe isolation, suicide and anxiety (Tartari, 2015). It is very much associated with the teens that have committed suicide when they got hurtful messages or comments. The same teens that are at the risk of the offline bullying are similarly affected by cyberbullying. Ordinary bullying was something that teens could somehow avoid or limit by keeping away from bullies. However, cyberbullying is much more difficult in dealing with (Monash University, 2011). Social media has become a common place where many teens meet even at night. Many of them have become addicts and therefore hard to keep off. The increasing use of the internet technology in mobile phones and personal computers has created a battleground for teens (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Many times the social media platforms have become the places to settle scores. Teens would disagree on some other matters, and then turn on to these places to post harassing information on the sites. Some move further to sign up to these social sites with unknown names so that even if they post nobody could tell who they are. This fact gives a platform for insults and many other cruel messages to victims.

Sexting is a common problem in social media, occurring among peers as well as between children and adults (sexual predation). Sexting refers to forwarding, receiving or sending sexually illegal images, photographs, or videos through an electronic device. Some people are using the internet for sexual harassment. There are several activities that appear to be such. Sexual solicitation refers to the encouraging or provoking a person to discuss sex, share personal information about sexual life or share the images of sexual organs with another person. An individual can be forced to do that with threats that failure to do so will make him receive certain punishment (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Research indicates that sexting has risen among teenagers in many parts of the world. Children admit that they have been accessing pornographic materials in the internet or through their friends. Unfortunately, only a few percent of parents are aware that such things happen to their children. Most of parents are surprised when they learn that their children have gone to the extent of watching pornographic videos. Children report that they spend more time online than their parents know. Children agree that during these hours they are harassed in one way or another. They receive harassment not only from their age mates and young adults but also from adults. It is unfortunate to note that 20% of teenagers who have access to the internet have at least once posted their nude or half nude videos or photos (Monash University, 2011). These photos might provoke others to sexually harass the teens. In fact, most of the people that sexually solicited such teenagers are persons that they physically know. In fact, 15% of the teenagers aged 10 to 17 years receive sexual images and messages from their peers (Tartari, 2015). They discuss sexual topics and naked images freely with their age mates. However, only 3% agree that they also send such images or videos to their friends. They all act as victims of sexual harassment but not perpetrators.

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Lastly, Facebook depression is increasingly becoming a concern among children using social media platforms. When teenagers and young adults spend most of their time on the internet, they are likely to develop depression symptoms. They do not have physical friends who can help them solve the things that are stressing them (Palfrey et al., 2010). It is normal for adolescents and young adults to struggle with psychological issues that require someone to help them. Unfortunately, spending time on social media sites isolates individuals. They do not have someone who can help them understand what is going on in their lives and how to handle it. Thus, they turn to online blogs and sites for help. As a result, they are exposed to malicious people who misuse these sites. They provoke them to sexual talks and videos. Since these young adults are vulnerable and desperate for help, they end up falling into trap. The victims engage in online sexual practices, become aggressive and intolerable. Teenagers who often use Facebook show depression symptoms such as aggressiveness, mania, and antisocial behavior. They withdraw from parents and age mates, which worsens the situation (Palfrey et al., 2010). In fact, technology and media can negatively affect the health of teenagers. It makes them prone to psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. As a result, they are susceptible to physical health problems in the future. Teenagers who are addicted to media have a lot of complications in their lives. They are uncomfortable with what goes on in the lives and are filled with sadness and hopelessness.

In a nutshell, social media have several benefits but they also have adverse effects on children users, which endanger their future as well as their present lives. Cyberbullying threatens the well-being of children, by subjecting them to low esteem and health problems. Similarly, Facebook depression affects both the childrens present and future because, like other types of depression, it takes longer to recover from depression and makes the victims susceptible to suicide ideation and other problems. Lastly, sexting threatens the childrens future, by damaging their online profiles, which have become increasingly important in job searches. Although these problems are grave, they do not completely overwhelm the benefits, and therefore, there is a need to find a balance in the childrens social media use. Prohibiting children from using social media in fear of these adverse effects would mean that they miss out on the crucial benefits, and it would also be unrealistic in this digital world. Therefore, there is a dire need for further studies, which would suggest safe ways of how children can use social media, maximizing the benefits while minimizing the dangers. Notably, parental involvement in the childrens social media consumption is crucial to ensure assistance, advice, and regulation.

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