Social media: Protecting the Young

Social media: Protecting the Young

Many people in modern society have adopted social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and many others. They can supplement and sometimes even replace the personal contact between friends, family, and colleagues. They are accessible to all ages, from all walks of life, and usually come with no additional costs. Many younger users view the absence of presence on any of the major networks as a social failure. It can indicate that someone is socially inept, outsider or lacks modern communication skills. These networks offer a way to make new friends and to connect with people from all walks of the life, who have similar interests. You can target specific interests groups on social media for certain age groups and local trades or businesses.

The Internet is open to anyone who has Internet access. This includes those with a smartphone compatible with the latest Internet technology. However, there are inherent dangers for younger users as well as those who have not had much social media experience. Most social media networks are not currently requiring any type of identification. This includes proof of identity, age, or geographic location. This lack of verification has led to the possibility that people younger than thirteen can access the network by giving false dates of birth. Those who are significantly older can create profiles that present themselves as much younger than they actually are. They can also use false names, personalities, and interests.

Two methods are used to gain experience in all areas of life: learning by doing and learning from others. This method is better suited for older users of social media or the elderly, while the second works well for minors and younger users.

Every social media platform or network has its own layout, rules, and clientele. Users must learn these and then adapt to them. This is not difficult for the more experienced user. They can simply compare other systems and work through different settings and programs. This is a more difficult experience for inexperienced users, particularly those who are just starting to use the Internet and/or have never been on social media before. The Internet is an entirely different society than our everyday, real-life environment. It has its own rules. Those who abide by them, occasionally break them, or try to avoid social responsibility are the ones who do. This last group includes those who surf the Internet solely to make contact with young, inexperienced users and profit from them.

In many ways, the protection of young Internet users is very similar to that of a child who uses the internet every day. You need to teach and follow certain social and house rules. However, many of these rules are not applicable to the Internet. One of these rules is to not talk to strangers.

Social media networks are, at first, nothing but a group of strangers who seek new experiences, new friends, and even new relationships online. Every person is an unknown commodity. They are essentially a stranger who can’t be seen. Their entire story, character and interests, as well as personality, can only be viewed by the individual who has entered their information on the site. The protection of younger users starts before a profile is seen and, where possible before a browser is pointed to a social networking site. It starts with educating young users. This includes explaining that trust is earned and not given automatically. That it is possible to turn a computer off to report abusive, offensive or simply interested in younger users for illegal or sexual purposes. This is particularly important when using social media networks that have a webcam. The connection between users can be seen through status updates, written communication, and chat rooms. Younger, less experienced users should be aware that personal information such as school or home address should not be shared with others unless they know the person personally. Personally known means only the children and parents who are outside the Internet environment.

It is important to show younger users how social media platforms work, what facilities are available, how privacy and security settings can be used, and how to create a profile that will not attract inappropriate interests. It is crucial to make sure that the profile of a child does not include exact locations, that automatic location indicators are turned off, and that the e-mail, home, and school addresses are only visible to the user and the administrators of the site. For example, contact with younger users via mail should be disabled if it is outside of the network’s parameters. It should also be clear how to keep certain images, such personal photos and information, hidden from the general public. This applies not only to other users but also search engines that constantly scan social media networks for information. In a matter of minutes, all information in a social media profile can become a business commodity that can be sold to other parties.

After creating a profile and becoming active on the social network of your choice, a variety of users will start to show interest in you and may receive a flood of friend requests. It is crucial to guide a child in this process. They will need to decide which friendships are worth keeping and which ones can be abandoned or ignored. However, the final decision should not be taken by them. It is acceptable to decline a friend request. The number of friends that a person has on sites that do not have an upper limit does not reflect the person. A person with more friends is not necessarily more popular. The numbers should not be taken to indicate popularity. It is better to have a small number of trustworthy and reliable friends with whom you can communicate than a large number of unreliable acquaintances. Friendship cannot be measured solely by numbers.

A social media user younger than 18 should be educated about trust and its meaning. A profile on social media sites represents one person, but they do not always reflect the person that they are. Profiles only contain the information that a person wants to share. Biographies, interests, and ages can be changed to make profiles more appealing. Locations, profile photos, and even ages can also be altered. Inexperienced users should not trust the information they see on profiles, nor what someone else tells them in private conversations. Younger users shouldn’t accept strangers as true. However, it is acceptable and best practice to develop a relationship slowly and with care. It is important to emphasize that children using the internet should not share any secrets with their guardians or parents, particularly if another user insists on keeping certain things secret, such as their friendship.

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