The Realities of Social Media


In our society, many children are surrounded by the pleasures and stresses of social media. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Social media is growing more and more popular with each passing year. In fact, since March 2008, 64 percent more Americans have begun to use social media. With increasing popularity has come increasing conflict, especially around children with social media. The argument discussing the appropriateness of children using social media is entirely subjective, with pros and cons for both sides.

“I think that, over time, social media has definitely become more popular with younger age groups. More children are getting involved with social media and I have noticed that they are spending more time than ever on their apps,” says sophomore Sarah Oates.

Social media is impacting today’s younger generations in ways that past generations never experienced. Social media is providing our generation with opportunities that our parents and grandparents did not receive. While they may have had to wait hours or days to talk, we can communicate in a matter of seconds. We have the ability to communicate with people from around the world, share and discuss our beliefs and opinions, and learn about news and people from all around. However, social media surrounds us with dangers like cyberbullying, sexting, harassment, privacy violations, and a dependency on social media to determine our social status.

“I feel as though kids with social media look for constant approval from their peers, constantly getting feedback and criticism from social media. Kids without technology or social media don’t focus their values based on what other people say or how many likes they get,” says sophomore Olivia Leonerd.

Certain dangers come with downloading social media platforms, especially for young people. A child, who may not be mature enough to know how to deal with certain situations, may experience difficulties dealing with some of the stresses of social media. For instance, many kids’ social media platforms are a way to say things, however rude they may be, without their conscience getting in the way because it is not said directly to others. Cyberbullying, however, can be just as detrimental as other forms of bullying, if not more so. Also, there is a certain risk with putting personal information on the internet, where almost anyone can access it.

“I think social media can easily become addicting, which has become a huge issue in our world. It’s common for people to post inappropriate content online, which can be dangerous. But, I also think that social media is an easy medium for convenient interactions outside of face-to-face, such as keeping in touch with friends and family. It’s good for people to stay up to date with news that is going on in our world and in our community. I think a lot of people without social media are often sheltered from things that are happening around us, and that can quickly make someone socially awkward,” says sophomore Devki Bhatt.

When used cautiously, social media can have extensive benefits. For instance, social media allows communication without limitations. It provides each person with a voice. Many of today’s celebrities, such as Justin Bieber and Alessia Cara, got their start through social media, simply doing what they love and sharing it with the world. Social media platforms are a simple way to discover news and new opinions about current issues that we might have never known about. When discussing the advantages of social media, the sky’s the limit.

“It’s amazing how social media connects us and allows us to communicate with people that may not live close to us. It can even help to develop our communication skills by discussing our different opinions on different conflicts in our community. I don’t think kids should be allowed to get social media until they are in middle school or high school, and their parents should monitor it to keep them safe,” says Leonerd.

Whether you agree or disagree with parents letting their children create social media profiles at such young ages, the direction our world is heading in is inevitable. Social media is growing more and more popular every day, and it’s easier to move with the times rather than against them. Social media and technology are ways that our generation is growing up, and, if we embrace the changes, we can grow with the times and reap all the benefits from them.

“I know tons and tons of kids who have social media. Even though it can make them act differently, I think it’s up to their parents to decide whether they should be allowed to have it or not. I think that, if their parents think they are mature, then they shouldn’t have to monitor their social media,” says Bhatt.

Although various social media platforms have tried to define specific age limits, it is more appropriate to entrust this responsibility to parents. While there is an age limit that everyone has to agree to, it’s easy to disregard this guideline and still create an account. In our society, it is common for children to have social media before they even turn ten, though that was not the case ten years ago. As long as parents and children know the benefits and dangers of having social media, they should be able to make a decision based on their own beliefs and maturity levels. The decision should be entirely subjective.

“I think that parents should monitor kids on social media. Since there are so many risks, like cyberbullying and dangers with privacy, they should try to keep an eye on their kids’ social media accounts so that they stay safe. I think it’s different for each situation, and the parents need to be the judge of what their child should be allowed to do,” says Oates.