Can you think of an invention that you use everyday that influences how you talk, act, dress, and feel? The answer to this question is social media. It may be hard to comprehend that this form of technology has this much power, but unfortunately, it does. And currently, right now, it may be doing more harm than good. Social media has indirectly caused suicidal deaths, especially in young girls from Gen Z (McDavid 2020). Social media allows young children to expose themselves to things that they would not typically see. For example, people of all socioeconomic backgrounds use the app Instagram. Most people on the app allow their accounts to be public. Meaning their photos have the opportunity to pop up on other unknown user's feeds.
For example, let's say you grew up in a struggling farm community with a population of 2,000 people, and you have an Instagram account. You log into your account and go to your 'For You' page and find pictures of a random woman throwing hundred dollar bills outside her New York apartment for fun. It may be challenging, especially for someone so young, to comprehend why someone would do that and how they can throw away so much money like that. This ignorant post may cause a sense of stress on the person who grew up in a struggling farm community whose family has a hard time even affording dinner.
But keep in mind a lot of the pictures posted on Instagram are fake. It has become a job for many Millennials to create an artificial life online that looks perfect online. In turn, this job gives the illusion that those people live the most luxurious and exciting lives. But most of the time, these photos use props and high-quality photo editing. It is sometimes hard for children to know what is fake and what is real. This issue can cause them to feel saddened when they realize their lives are not as luxurious as those they see on Instagram, making the child sad and depressed and sometimes even suicidal. Not only is it that, but many users on Instagram, mostly women, over-edit their photos by making their waist appear smaller, slimming down their jawline, and more. This action tricks young children into thinking that they need to look as perfect as they look in that Instagram photo, thereby causing self-image issues.
Predators are aware of the cause and effect of Instagram and use it to their advantage. Predators will search for young children's social media accounts and prey on them, promising them a better lifestyle. Some children are using social media so young that they do not even have their accounts on private mode, making it even easier for predators to make a move.
The predator's first step would be to follow the child on whatever platform the child uses. The child will most likely not mind because, in today's age, the more followers you have, the "cooler" you are, no matter who that follower is. After that follow has been approved, the predator might move into commenting and liking the child's photos or even direct messaging them through the social media platform.
Exploiting children on social media is currently the new way to sex traffic, kidnap, or take advantage of a child. Saying no to a strange man or woman offering candy is no longer the most significant concern for parents. The worst part is when a kid gets a direct message; the parents cannot see it. It is a safe idea not to allow your children to use social media at such a young age. According to the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, tech CEOs that run these social media platforms do not let their children have social media accounts (McDavid, 2020). That says a lot.
Things Parents Can Do To Keep Their Children Safe From Online Predators
Some apps have parental controls where you can limit your kids' time on certain apps, access your child's conversations, and monitor who they are following on each social media platform. If you happen to own an Apple product, you can go into your settings and click on Screen Time. Screen Time allows you to monitor all of your child's Apple products, such as how long your child has spent on specific apps, played certain games, and even what applications they have downloaded onto their Apple devices. This feature allows you to turn off the phone at certain times, such as homework hours, while they are at school, and even at bedtime. You can set up this application by going on to your child's iPhone or iPad and create a password in their settings, or you can use Apple's Family Sharing features and manage your child's devices off of your own Apple devices.
You should have a conversation with your child about what you will be looking at, what you will have control over, and why you are doing this. Education is vital in this situation. If you educate your child on the possible dangers of social media without scaring them, they might accept your protection. Of course, there is a cut-off age to this where you will have to trust what you taught them about the dangers of social media; and hope it will rub off when you no longer have control over their accounts. In the meantime, while your young children are using social media platforms, it is essential to do your research on how to keep your children safe.
One great way to help keep your children safe on social media is using new, and advanced people search technology to instantly and confidentially verify who your children are talking to on social media platforms. One of our favorites is GladiKnow.com. It's simple, highly effective, and inexpensive. Here's how you use it:
- Go on to your child's social media accounts and check through their direct messages to see if anyone “new” or suspicious pops up, or ask your child if they have “met” any new friends on social media. This is particularly important if you child is chatting, talking with, or is planning to meet any “new” people.
- Go to GladiKnow.com and input the person's name into their people search engine. From there, you will instantly get a confidential report on the person, including a search for that person's true age, addresses and address history, emails, phones, relatives, employment history, education history, social media profiles, criminal records, sex offender records, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, civil records, traffic and infraction records, licenses, permits, and much more.
Trust? Of course. But verify too. When it comes to your loved ones’ safety and security, it’s just the smart thing to do.
For more information on the new, advanced people search engines, check out this great video.
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