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Upon driving past their previous elementary or middle school, high schoolers are often overwhelmed with nostalgia. Memories of a much simpler time seem like heaven when compared to the stress-ridden reality of high school. But just as the daydream reaches its peak, an interesting sight distracts: young kids are wearing mature clothes that don’t seem to fit their maturity levels; most of them even have smart phones. Though one may jump to criticize the child, further thought would reveal that social media is the real culprit.
Most social media websites and apps deny access to those under the age of 13, this is due to the Online Privacy Protection Act, which prevents companies from collecting certain information from young children. Though there is this restriction, many kids simply lie about their age—sometimes even with permission from their parents—and there isn’t much that can be done to restrict this. A study done by the Daily Mail in 2014 reveals that over half of all children end up using social media by age 10; Facebook is one of the most popular sites that youngsters join evidenced by 5 million Facebook users under the age of 10 (according to a study done by Forbes). Considering social media is mostly intended for people of a certain maturity, it is dangerous for young people to have access to such material.
Social media is prematurely aging young kids. Children under the age of 13 are especially easy to influence. They reciprocate what they are exposed to and with so many young people on social media, they are bound to come across mature content that they—at their age—don’t know how to comprehend. Social media is dominated by people in their late teens and twenties. When young kids see popular posts that feature mature clothing and lifestyle trends they often emulate those images in efforts to gain popularity and attention. This will result in choices of clothing, for example, that don’t correspond with their maturity levels. Though clothing style itself may not seem to pose a significant threat to most, there are other problems with children using websites and apps that are dominated by adults.
People in general tend to underestimate how dangerous social media can be (especially to kids who are more likely to be taken advantage of). Frighteningly 43% of people, starting from an average age of 12, message complete strangers through social media. About a third of those that meet people online follow up with an in-person meeting, according to a 2015 Washington Post study. For the safety of their children, parents should restrict kids from using social media until an appropriate age. For further precaution, parents should monitor their kids’ social media. Young people should not be communicating with strangers (whose motives are unclear). Too many kids reveal personal information that can sometimes even include where they live. This is not information that strangers online should be aware of. In conclusion, one’s childhood should consist of fond memories and free expression. The influence of social media has essentially stripped these joys from young people while putting them in potentially dangerous situations. Children should wait until they are of a certain age and maturity to engage in social media; the risk is not worth it.