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Restrictions on Social Media


By Leslie Laris

The first notable social media website was introduced in 1997. Since than, thousands more have been created giving people the opportunity to meet others from all around the world. The advancement in technology throughout the 21st century has helped social media gain popularity, thus allowing it to be constantly around us. Technology has become so advanced that anybody is able to see anything they want through Instagram, Twitter, or even through a simple Google search. Everyday, thousands of people are on social media, posting about their day on Snapchat, talking to a friend through Instagram, or logging into Twitter to see what their favourite celebrities are up to. Social media provides entertainment and gives many the opportunity to express their creativity through sites such as YouTube, and in turn allows others to see that they aren't alone during difficult times. For the most part, social media gives people hope for better days. For an instant, they can forget about their problems while watching funny and inspirational videos or reading moving quotes off of Tumblr. However, where there is hope there is darkness that lurks around the corner waiting for its victim. Spiteful people lie behind a veil of ebony and use social media as a tool to harm others by posting hateful messages, luring children into a trap, or posting certain things that a child should not be exposed to during their youth. Social media with all its glory, must have more restrictions to ensure the safety of children growing up in this new digital era.

Throughout the 21st century, there has been a drastic increase in the amount of kids on the internet. One study demonstrates that,“95 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 are online” (Online Predators- Statistics Puresite). It is obvious that the 21st century has become consumed by technology- everyday, more and more people are signing into the internet not solely for the purpose of work or school, but for the desire to seek entertainment, to escape reality. The number of people who use social media on a daily will only increase uncontrollably with time. Soon, that 95% of youth who use social media will change into 100%. With an increase in kids and young adults online, social media platforms will continue to grow and become more dangerous than they already are. Social media is a perfect way for bullies and online predators to make to their move; it is the number one source for them to get into contact with their victims. “One in five teenagers have reported that they have received unwanted sexual solicitation messages” (Online Predators- Statistics Puresite). These messages consist of vulgar subjects such as an adult asking a minor to engage with them in sexual activities. In order for young adult to be protected, there needs to be more restrictions and monitoring on the things that are viewed by minors, the majority of social media websites are designed to filter mature content, however sometimes filters can only go so far.

A handful of sites have a feature on their website that allows anonymous messages to be sent to practically anyone with an account. These messages can range from a simple innocent question or something very inappropriate. Of course, as with any other platform there is the option to block messages from being sent from people whom the person does not know. However, that does not necessarily block other things from the viewing eye. On Tumblr, “You can post whatever you want on your Tumblr, as long as it is lawful and follows our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service” (Sensitive Content Tumblr). Although Tumblr does has an option for one’s Tumblr account to be turned on to “safe mode”- this meaning that the person with said account cannot view sensitive content until they are 18- there are still ways for things to pop up. This is because people find ways for their post to stay on the internet by not using the correct tags on their post, instead applying ones that aren't related at all. Some people take advantage of the fact that sites like Tumblr allow practically anything to be posted and they use these sites as a way to implement obscene thoughts into the young minds of children, stealing their precious innocence and forcing them to grow up way too fast.

The internet is so incredibly vast that there are many places for children to be exposed to dangerous items. In a study done, about “42.1% of kids admit they have seen online porn. One in 16 have been exposed to hardcore pornography” (5 Scary Statistics About Internet Safety Shared Hope). Parents need to keep a closer eye on what their kids are viewing on the internet or exposed to. Some parents don’t truly understand the dangers of letting their three-year-old be on Youtube, clicking away at random videos or ads that may pop up. Viewing certain content can drastically change the way the child’s mind is developing; it can cause them to think about certain things in a completely different manner and destroy their mindset.

On top of the fact that kids are being exposed to such vulgar media, they are also facing the risk of being victims of cyberbullying. “Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online” (11 Facts About Bullying Do Something). Social media gives bullies an easy way to harass their targets without fear of being caught, because they can hide behind an anonymous account, not revealing their identity. Bullies tend to post vile comments on the internet, resulting in the one who is being targeted to slowly become insecure, some even falling into depression that can lead to suicidal thoughts. Studies done have demonstrated that cyberbullying is just as impactful as physical bullying when it comes to suicidal thoughts or intentions. Agreeing with the fact that kids being harassed online do hold some sort of control over it because they can choose to leave the website or simply delete their account to stop the bully. However, when somebody is being attacked, they tend to freeze in shock, not knowing what to do in that moment because they are feeling utterly scared and sad. If one is to actually block the account that is harassing them, there will always be the possibility of another account being created to continue the harassment, which makes it almost impossible for the victim to escape.

The internet is a truly dangerous place for young adults, therefore the tolerance as to what is posted on social media must be changed. It must have more restrictions to protect innocent lives. Applying more restrictions on what is posted on the internet may be thought of as a violation of the First Amendment because it is restricting our right to freedom of expression. However, The Constitution does not protect any form of speech which is considered to be “threats, child pornography, or obscenity” (Which Types of Speech are Not Protected by the First Amendment Newseum Institute); in reality, if more restrictions were to be applied onto what is posted on the internet, they wouldn’t necessarily violate the First Amendment because those actions are not considered to be liable. By adding more restrictions and decreasing the negativity, lives would be saved and a child’s innocence would be kept from dying. Isn't that reason enough for restrictions to become more present in social media?

The fact that social media will continue to grow and become a bigger part of our daily lives is inevitable. With due time, there will be more kids as young as three glued to a phone while their parents aren’t paying attention. People need to open their eyes and see what truly is going on behind a phone screen. Why should their lives be put into danger due to the ignorance of an adult? Why should they be the ones to suffer when all they did was go on their favorite apps to have a nice moment? Why should their minds be fed awful things at a young age and be ignored? Everyone needs to be more careful of what they are posting and what they are letting their children view. Restrictions on social media websites do have plenty of filters, however they need to be enforced and improved. The companies in charge of these websites need to pay closer attention to the content posted on their sites. Heavier restrictions and filters must be implemented in these social media apps to prevent the loss of a child, mentally and physically. Parents should not let their children be corrupted by the digital world in order for them to live a healthy life.

Works Cited

“Online Predators - Statistics.” Online Predators - Statistics | PureSight | Pedophiles/Online Predators,

Sensitive Content.” Help Center, tumblr.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/231885248-Sensitive-content

www.puresight.com/Pedophiles/Online-Predators/online-predators-statistics.html.

“Which Types of Speech Are Not Protected by the First Amendment?” Newseum Institute,

www.newseuminstitute.org/about/faq/which-types-of-speech-are-not-protected-by-the-first-amendment/.

“11 Facts About Cyber Bullying.” DoSomething.org | Volunteer for Social Change, www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-cyber-bullying.

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