The Internet has changed the world. Our ability to access information, share information, connect with people throughout the world, share ideas, publicize products and get information instantly. With this still ever-changing technology it has been difficult for society and parents to keep up with the ultimate risks that occur with people being connected everywhere and at all times. We also live in a society that tries to keep itself safe by developing regulations on construction, movie ratings, driving, food and just about every product that reaches our store shelves. Increasingly people are choosing ‘Organic’ food, reading labels and choosing foods that are healthier. However, when it comes to the Internet and the creation of new APPs the standard is certainly not very high.
It seems an everyday message when we hear of some tragedy falling on our children that can be linked either directly or indirectly to Social Media. Kelly Clarkson has a song called “Darkside” and without a doubt we all have a dark side. Temptation is and has always been part of our human make-up. Access for youth to feed their dark side has increased. The culture of our children and society is changing right before our eyes. The values of our own children are changing sometimes from people we don’t even know. The people who at times enter our children’s lives through social media if they came to our front door parents wouldn’t let them in.
Some recent studies are showing a rise in ‘narcissism’ in our youth and college students. ‘Cyberbullying’ is a constant news item. Examples are: Ask.fm and Snap Chat. The difficulties these two sites have caused is worriesome. People often argue that to use these sites is an individuals choice and as for children a parent’s responsibility. As I am a beleiver in the saying it ‘Takes an entire Village to raise a child’ it also falls on us to do the right thing.
Despite policies how one deals with a particular issue, how that policy is interrupted may depend on their own attitudes to social media. We must remember that students in elementary school are often texting and are on Facebook. We certainly cannot ban social media but we can look at teaching at school and home the correct uses and responsibilities to be responsible. We also need to help students understand the value of face to face conversation rather than only relying on social media tools. Social Media is being used by many to spread rumours about individuals or false and tagged images about our children and adults.
We also need to become diligent in prosecuting sites that are developed that prey on our children. When the information came out that smoking was bad for your health we rallied around to change attitude and opinions about smoking as well as changed laws. The evidence is clear that Social Media is effecting the Mental Health of our society and especially our youth.