I Am Scared to Death of Social Media
Social media is everywhere. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, You Tube, Vine, Snapchat, LinkdIn, Twitter, Meetup – to name a few. The number of these sites is progressively growing each year. There are sites to anonymously text people, forums specifically to meet people, hate based networking sites, apps to anonymously admit your darkest secrets, sites to anonymously send people not so nice notes, not to mention all the phones, tablets, and game consoles you can interact with people from across the world. The internet is a rabbit hole of options to explore technologically.
The problem is my son is interested. Very interested.
He is in fourth grade this year, and his online interest is growing as I type this. He is already asking for permissions on his XBox to play online. He is already addicted watching You Tube videos (with certain permissions, of course.) He wants a phone. He wants a You Tube channel. He wants a virtual reality headset. He loves all things techy. After all, he is growing up alongside these technological advances.
The internet just scares me so much.
I am not talking about the dark corners of the internet my child may discover with a misspelled or unguided Google search. I am not referring to interaction with strangers. Those are both another completely different – and very lengthy – discussions. I am referring to the impact social media has on our society negatively.
I have seen the pictures of unknowing, innocent people in their bathing suit being shamed for being at the beach while spending time with their family. I have seen the videos of people playing pranks on people for the sole purpose of public humiliation. I have seen personal information publicly blasted because someone was “rude to a server,” or just behaved differently that the person yielding a social media account preferred. I have seen cyber bullying and truly believe it exists. And yes, I have seen people (and kids) commit suicide from the effects of social media.
This leaves me to wonder. How do I explain to my son the lasting effect of social media? How do I explain the finality of posts, comments, and pictures and the effect they can have on a person? How many times have my friends and I laughed and said, “Thank God we didn’t have phones with cameras in my day!” (Yes, I am old.) But it’s true; I have done so many things in my life I would have preferred not to be displayed for the world to see by a simple push of a finger. How do I make my children understand this definitive process and truly understand the effect it could have on them for years to come?