Biggest Dangers Of Social Networks For Kids And Teens

Biggest Dangers Of Social Networks For Kids And Teens

When used properly and with an awareness of the dangers and risks that they may entail, using social networks does not have to be a negative activity. However, not all children and adolescents are aware of these threats, sometimes because of their youth, sometimes because they have grown up in an environment where social networks have always been present and they think they know everything they need about them. In this article we will see the dangers of social networks for children and adolescents and a series of tips so that they can continue using them with greater security.

The 10 Biggest Dangers Of Social Media For Kids And Teens

All social networks that are not for minors have a minimum age of access (most of them are 14 years old), however, the average age at which a child receives a mobile phone is between 10 and 12 years old. In many cases it is a smartphone, which allows them to access the Internet at any time if parents do not configure parental control or install a parental control app that can block certain access on the mobile.

Creating an account on a social network is very simple and when they ask you for your age or year of birth, there is no system to verify if you are lying or not, so children and adolescents can create a profile on Facebook or Twitter even when they do not reach the minimum age for it. And many teens know how to bypass parental controls.

So, even if parents take the necessary measures to control what their children access and what apps they use, it is always advisable to know what dangers minors can find on social networks and inform our children about them, so that they never stop being careful when using them.

Next we are going to see the 10 dangers of social networks for the most habitual young people.

Privacy issues

Privacy on the Internet is something that we deal with even as adults, without being fully aware of the amount of information that we can share on the Internet, and especially when we use social networks.

Children and adolescents are even more vulnerable to the risks and dangers of social networks with regard to privacy, since on many occasions they are not aware of how far a post, photo or video uploaded to them can go, especially when They haven’t bothered to set up their profile so they can only see what their friends post. Once something is published on the Internet, even if its author deletes it, it will hardly disappear from the Internet.

Although it is true that many adolescents are somewhat more aware of the type of information that they should not share on networks (such as the fact that they are on vacation, their home address, etc.), on many occasions they share personal data about themselves without realizing it. account, for example, when they publish a photo of a place they usually frequent and do not deactivate geolocation.

But this problem, as we said, is not only a children’s thing, there are parents who share a large amount of content about their children; we refer to sharenting , a practice that can expose our children to different dangers, apart from violating their privacy when they are not the ones who decide to upload or not upload a photo of themselves to a social network.

And beware, because the data protection law on social networks can also be applied to those parents who have shared photos of their children without their consent. It is true that the Law says that the minimum age for a minor to give consent to publish her photos is 14 years, but that should not be confused to share every aspect of our children’s lives on social networks. Also, remember that posting photos without permission in Spain is a crime (and yes, your child over 14 years of age could report you for uploading their photos to social networks without their consent).

Identity Theft

Phishing is second on our list of 10 dangers of social media. It is something that adults can suffer, but also adolescents.

It can occur when another person steals our account in a social network and pretends to be us; It is the most extreme and problematic case, because in addition to damaging our image or the image of the minor, he has access to all the information and personal data of his account.

It can also happen when a person steals a photo of us and uses it to create a fake profile with our name, again, to impersonate us or the minor and post on their behalf. In this second case, the worst consequences will be our online reputation or that of the minor, and may cause problems with other friends of the minor.

Social media addiction is a real problem for many teens

Addiction is another of the dangers of social networks for young people . From falling into the eternal scroll down, to oversharing or sharing every detail of their lives and day by day, all with the possibility of causing sleep disturbances (that they stay until the wee hours of the morning looking at their social networks) or paradoxically, isolation, since most of their social interactions take place through social networks.

The social network you use the most consumes your time, taking it away from other activities and you have the need to be connected at all times every day to “not miss anything”.

Cyber bullying

Cyberbullying is bullying (harassment) taken to social networks, where it acquires a whole new dimension.

Despite the benefits of the Internet and the good intentions with which social networks were originally created, the worst behaviors and behaviors of people have also moved there, often protected by the anonymity provided by these sites.

Thus, bullying on the Internet is one of the dangers in social networks that many adolescents and also children suffer, often continuing the bullying suffered in classes in the virtual environment and with consequences that can sometimes be very tragic.

Contact with potentially dangerous strangers

Another of the dangers of social networks for children and adolescents is the possibility that they end up making contact with potentially dangerous strangers. That contact can start in an online game, for example, and be transferred to the social network. Sometimes that stranger can be an adult pretending to be another child, to gain the trust of the minor and to be able to manipulate him to get what she wants from him; from photos or videos of the minor, to arranging meetings in the real world, with all the danger that this entails.

This brings us to our next point.

Grooming

Grooming is one of the dangers of social networks for children and adolescents that every father and mother should know about.

It is a type of sexual harassment through the Internet, in this case a sexual network, where an adult deceives and manipulates the minor for a sexual purpose. As we said in the previous point, it is based on gaining the minor’s trust and over time, establishing emotional ties with him in order to get what he wants from them; photos or videos of sexual content starring the minor or, in the case of a pederast, achieving a physical encounter with the minor.

When the sexual predator obtains the first photo or video, it is usual for them to turn to blackmail or extortion, threatening to share it with the minor’s acquaintances, to obtain more images or that physical encounter.

Sexting

Sexting is a practice that consists of having conversations with sexual content between two people, often sharing images of sexual content, usually using instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram.

The risk here is that one of the participants ends up sharing those images with other people without the consent of the other person, something that among adolescents is quite likely to end up happening. Obviously, as we have already said, sharing personal images without permission is a crime, but no matter how much it is reported, the damage will already be done.

In addition, this is not the only danger, because those images and texts of the sexting sessions can also become material for blackmail, as we will see in the next point.

Sextortion

When an adolescent shares photos or videos of sexual content with another adolescent or with an adult pretending to be an adolescent, they may end up being a victim of sextortion , that is, the threat of publishing on the same social networks they use, the images they have shared with that other person.

This threat is made to get money, but, as we have already seen, also to get more photos and videos of the same style or even a physical encounter, both in the case of a pedophile or another minor.

Fake News that can distort your reality

If adults sometimes believe a fake news, you can be sure that a teenager will also believe it.

Fake news is a problem that social networks are still dealing with and that does not have a close solution. The risk for adolescents is that these false news, these hoaxes, can distort reality for them, making them believe things and facts that are not true about certain topics, groups or minorities. In addition, they become “accomplices” of them, when they share them and contribute to their viralization.

Challenge or very dangerous challenges, sometimes criminal

Another important risk in social networks that we must not lose sight of are the so-called “challenges” or challenges, since some of them can be very dangerous, to the point of putting the life of the minor at risk, and others even lead them to incur in some crime.

Many of these challenges have been in the news and you may have heard of them, such as the “Blue Whale” whose last challenge was to commit suicide. But there are others that may seem more innocent and entail the same danger to life or physical integrity, for example, for a while the challenge of eating a spoonful of cinnamon, which could cause choking, or biting a capsule was circulating of detergent (this one in the US), which could cause a burn in the mouth and esophagus.

Other dangers that young people can find in social networks

Aside from the ones we’ve already seen, there are other dangers on social media for teens that parents should also be aware of.

Possible distortion of reality in young people

YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, Instagram and other platforms are the current places where teenagers consume multimedia content and where they find someone to follow and “listen to”. We refer to youtubers and influencers, with millions of followers on their channels and on social networks.

Although on many occasions it is not dangerous for teenagers to see its contents, there are some things that must be taken into account. To begin with, they can become role models (just as a child says they want to be a soccer player, they can tell you they want to be a youtuber), especially because they pretend that doing what you want and having fun and recording yourself doing it, you can earn a lot. money and fame, when the reality is that in many cases there is a lot of work and hours of dedication, not to mention a certain degree of loss of privacy, and that making a living from it is complicated.

Other times, these youtubers or influencers can promote toxic messages or attitudes, hoaxes or have a clear ideological tendency, which in very young audiences can go a long way, especially when they lack critical thinking or the tools and maturity to discern between exaggerations, content ironic or sarcastic.

Loss of study, work or family time

Related to the addiction to social networks that we mentioned above, being constantly aware of their accounts on them can lead children and adolescents to lose time that they dedicate to studying or spending time with the family. This is a problem that adults also suffer, changing study for work; Surely on some occasion it has happened to you that you have said “I’m going to look at something on Twitter for five minutes” and when you want to realize it, almost an hour has passed.

That this happens to you in your free time, beyond the fact that you do not dedicate it to another activity, is not a problem, but if it happens to you while they are at work or, in the case of children or adolescents, when they should be doing homework or studying, yes you can become one.

And we all remember that advertising campaign in which the whole family is watching their mobile screen during a dinner.

Access to hate speech

When a child or adolescent, who is still forming his critical thinking and his vision of the world, ends up accessing hate speech, which abounds in social networks (on all kinds of topics) and favored by anonymity on many occasions, it is It’s easy for him to end up repeating those mantras, for those ideas to sink in and help spread them, I even acted following them and ended up causing harm to other minors.

Tips for parents or guardians to minimize the risks of children and adolescents in Social Networks

Now that you know the main dangers of social networks that your children can find in them, it is time to give you several tips to avoid and prevent most of them. Of course, the first advice we give you is to talk to your children about these dangers, explain their consequences and why they should be careful when using a social network.

Know the Social Networks used by children and adolescents

It is important that parents know what social networks their children use and that they become familiar with them, from what can be done in them, to how each privacy option can be configured.

In addition, if parents know how to use a social network properly, they can explain it to their children and teach them what limits there are for what they can and cannot post on them or who they should not communicate with.

It is important not to limit yourself only to the best known networks, but also to become familiar with those used by young people or that are becoming fashionable among them.

Use them with common sense

We have already said it, if parents know how to use social networks well, they can teach their children to use them with common sense, not to share sensitive and personal information with anyone, to configure privacy options, not to accept friend requests from any stranger, not to post photos or videos that they may later regret, not even in private conversations, etc.

Do not share private information

They must be taught that there is private and personal information that they will not want to share with everyone who follows them on social networks, that they must keep a certain sphere of their personal life private, especially since not all the people who can follow them will be friends.

Do not add unknown people

We have already seen that contacting strangers on social networks is one of its risks, so to avoid dangerous situations or possible abuse or extortion, parents should explain to their children the risks involved for them to add people they do not know to their network of contacts, telling them that it is, in part, like opening the door of the house to a complete stranger, since they will be able to see everything that the minor publishes on their networks.

As long as a person is not known in the real world, it is important to insist that they should be cautious, that there are people who create false profiles to take advantage of other people and do harm.

Never send intimate photos

As we have already said, a photo that you upload or share on a social network or the Internet will be very difficult to completely remove from the Internet. To this we must add the risk of being victims of extortion and blackmail when they share an intimate photo and make them understand that it gives Whether it’s with a friend or a complete stranger, anyone can use that photo for malicious purposes.

Limit the use that minors have of Social Networks

Setting limits on the use that minors make of social networks can help avoid many of the dangers that we have seen here. It is not about prohibiting them, but controlling both the time of use and the use they make of them. To do this, you can use different parental control apps with which you can establish periods of time for using the mobile or an application or be present when they access and use the networks (although this can be more complicated).

Tips on security in social networks. Minimizes risks for young people and adults

We close this article with another batch of tips that are useful for both young people and adults to use social networks more safely and minimize risks when publishing and sharing content through them.

Check that all information is encrypted

When you use a social network, make sure that it uses the ” https ” protocol, that is, that it appears in the URL before the “www…” address. That “s” assures us that browsing the website is secure and that the information we share travels encrypted, which makes elements such as usernames or passwords more secure.

Use strong and secure passwords

Using a secure and strong password is a guarantee that virtually no one will be able to access our profile on the social network. Therefore, you have to create complex passwords with random characters; the more random a password is, the less likely it is to be cracked.

Also, try not to share it with anyone else or leave it written somewhere accessible. Use a different password for each profile or social network account and avoid using significant dates, ID numbers or any other data related to you.

Avoid public Wi-Fi networks

Taking advantage of a public Wi-Fi network may sound good, especially to save data and it is an attractive resource for those teenagers with limited data, but both they and adults must understand that using a public Wi-Fi can leave both the information and data you share as well as vulnerable. access to your terminal.

Check the Privacy and proper use of each social network and configure it correctly

It is something that very few people tend to do, but we should all read the terms and conditions of use of the social networks in which we create an account, to know what can and cannot be done on them. In addition to this, we must review their privacy policy, to know what personal data they collect from us and for what purposes and where we can exercise our user rights with respect to them.

And, of course, we must know how to configure the privacy options available to the social network, to limit access to our profile and our publications to strangers or the general public or who can send us a private message or conversation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the risks and dangers of social networks for children and adolescents (and also for adults) will always be there, avoiding and preventing them is a matter of common sense and good judgment, in avoiding putting yourself in unnecessary risk situations by posting a content or share the minute by minute of their lives, forgetting that there is a world outside the networks.

Parents should bother and spend time learning about how the social networks that their children use or may use work, know the risks and be prepared to avoid them before they occur and teach them not to be victims of them. And also, and no less important, to teach their children to use social networks (and the Internet) responsibly and also with respect for others.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

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