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Social Media’s Toll on Children

Photo by Sara KurfeƟ on Unsplash

Children and millennials worldwide, especially in the United States, are heavily engaged with various social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and many others. Logging into these apps exposes children to cyberbullying, sexual predators, and peer pressure from their peers. Congress and the Biden administration are taking steps to mitigate the harm caused by social media to young children by proposing legislation that imposes restrictions and potentially bans TikTok in the United States.

Social media usage is pervasive among children, teenagers, and young adults globally, with many spending countless hours on these platforms every day. Social media serves various purposes, from communication via texting to sharing real-time updates on activities. However, it also exposes children and teenagers to inappropriate content and influences their behavior based on what they see others post. Consequently, social media poses significant dangers, particularly to young users.

According to a 2022 study, 95% of teenagers and children in the United States use some form of social media, with a significant percentage reporting nearly constant usage. Parents are increasingly concerned about their children’s social media habits and struggle to protect them without completely restricting their access to social media or their smartphones.

Social media platforms have been scrutinized for their failure to adequately protect minors from various risks, including bullying, harassment, exposure to harmful content, and interactions with sexual predators. The recent Senate hearings highlighted these concerns, with senators questioning social media CEOs about their plans to safeguard children from such dangers.

Disturbing statistics reveal the extent of the problem, with research indicating that a significant proportion of children aged 13 to 15 have experienced unwanted sexual advances on platforms like Instagram. Such alarming trends have prompted the Biden administration to consider drastic measures, including the possibility of a national TikTok ban and setting a minimum age requirement for social media access, with parental consent mandatory until age 18.

In the face of these challenges, parents are striving to ensure their children’s safety online, while the government is actively seeking to implement measures to protect minors on social media platforms. While it will take time to establish effective safeguards, parents can take immediate steps such as limiting their children’s access to social media, implementing safety restrictions, and monitoring their online activities closely.

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