The dangers of social networks for children and young people

Padres protejan a sus hijos

Social networks have become the most attractive site for children and young people because they invite them to express themselves and make new friends. They are at a stage where they want to reveal their feelings, discover themselves and feel liked.

On the other hand, there are dangers in social networks for children because we find people who invent an attractive personality to seduce them with the sole purpose of hurting them. In view of this and as we have already seen the advantages and disadvantages of social networks, I want to tell you how to detect some dangers and some practical tips to use social networks safely.

Dangers of Social Networking for Teenagers

On the dangers of social networks and the dangers of the Internet for adolescents and in view of the fact that social networks can be used by millions of people, it is possible that, under anonymity, they can be used to endanger the safety of children and adolescents.

They are like a virtual party: sometimes virtual friends appear who tend to be false and with the desire to cause a lot of harm. So let’s talk about some of these dangers:

Everything published on the network, is material that will constantly be at risk of being fully public.

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Minimum age to use social networks

Since many of the networks have been created in the United States, the minimum age to have an account would be 13 years old.

However, this will depend on the type of social network and where you live. For example, the minimum age for social networks in Spain and to have an account is:

  • Minimum age Twitter: 13 years old
  • Minimum age Facebook: 14 years old
  • Minimum age Instagram: 14 years old
  • Minimum age LinkedIn: 16 years old
  • Minimum age WhatsApp: 16 years old

It is not legal for minors to use social networks, partly due to the dangers of social networks and their consequences among young people. If you do not comply with this requirement, you can delete your profile on this social network.

Privacy

Since the data and photos posted on the profile, status updates (messages shared with friends) and comments (responses to the updates of others) can tell a lot about a person, it is necessary to be very careful.

Revealing the address, the time of being at home or not at home, the place of work or study are data that a thief could use to commit his misdeeds.

Other information such as e-mail address, telephone number or date of birth can be used by others to intimidate, harass or steal identity.

Often, we are unaware that the information we constantly share on social networks can easily become public domain, regardless of whether we have filtered it so that it is only accessible to our friends.

This fact reveals that there is no sure way to control what is done with our data once it is shared. We must accept a reality with which I do not agree: Everything posted online is material that will constantly be at risk of becoming fully public.

Misuse of time

Social networks can steal a lot of time and distract us from more important activities, they can even cause addiction to such an extent that children and young people become isolated, lose sleep, have behavioral changes and even affect the friendships they may be cultivating at home.

Think about this for a moment: Internet use can facilitate contact with family members when they are distant, but at the same time it can alienate family members at home.

So remember that time is too valuable to waste. It is like having a lot of money, but not because of that, we will allow ourselves to spend it to be left with nothing.

It affects reputation

Things that are said or written on a social network can generate a good or bad reputation.

So saying things you wouldn’t normally say or posting an inappropriate photo or a reckless comment can ruin your reputation, leading to problems finding a job or losing the one you have.

In the case of children, they may be rejected from school.

The choice of friends

An old proverb says that “He who hangs out with the wise will become wise, but he who hangs out with the foolish will end badly”.

It is very true that friends can have a great influence on the way we think and act.

Hence the importance of knowing how to choose them and being very selective in adding them to the “contact list”.

Accepting many requests in order to have dozens of them is not wise. Generally, we know little or nothing about them. So how can we say that they are really true friends?

Grooming

Grooming or pedophile deception is a practice of sexual harassment and abuse by an adult against children and young people. The adult, through the Internet, invents an identity to deceive them and establish certain emotional ties in order to commit his crimes.

In most cases what they seek is to produce pornographic material and introduce them to the world of child prostitution.

Sextorsion

It is a type of cyberstalking. A form of sexual exploitation that consists of blackmailing a person with an image or video of themselves naked or performing sexual acts.

The purpose of this type of harassment is that the victim delivers more erotic or pornographic images, money or to have sex with someone, under the threat of making public the original images if they do not agree to the blackmailer’s demands.

The fact that the Internet facilitates a certain degree of anonymity makes it easy for the criminal to use this practice. This type of cyberbullying is so dangerous that it makes victims feel ashamed and end up doing what is demanded of them due to the fear of being judged.

In the worst cases, it can trigger serious psychological trauma and even, suicide attempts.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a term used to describe when a young person uses the Internet to taunt, marginalize, harass or threaten another child or adolescent. This may be done by chatting, sending emails or videos, stealing their identity and impersonation.

For example, in order to embarrass his or her victim, a young person may use a camera phone to take pictures or record videos in poor taste with the intention of sending them to people eager to see them.

Of course, this idea of making someone’s life miserable is nothing new, but it has a much more perverse character.

Sexting

This practice consists of sending sexual, erotic or pornographic messages, photos and videos through cell phones, social networks, e-mails or any other type of communication tool.

It is generally done in an intimate way, between two people, but it may happen that some of the parties do not respect that privacy and send the content to other users.

From the very moment the message, photos or videos are sent, control over it is lost, since the receiver can spread it as he/she wishes.

They can enter the circle of pornography causing the publication of their content on the web and generating problems such as the closure of the account in social networks, legal problems, and a destroyed reputation, among others.

Practical tips for safe use of social networks

To some extent, using the Internet has its risks. Not everyone is responsible or has sound judgment when using it. That is why it is necessary to meditate on this matter. Let’s take a look at some practical tips that will help you to be safe when using social networks:

Pay attention to privacy

You should be well aware of the privacy options offered by social networks in order to use them properly. Only people you trust should have access to your status updates and photos.

It is important to remember that what you expose can become more public than you may have wanted.

With that in mind, you should frequently review the page and look closely to see if there is anything that unscrupulous people could use to perhaps steal your identity or track you down. Do not reveal any intimate information.

If you need to talk about something sensitive, the networks would not be the best option, use another means of communication such as the phone that will give you more privacy. So, paying attention to this advice will give you the opportunity to enjoy a certain degree of security.

Invest your time better

As I mentioned before, time is very valuable and you have to invest it very well. A good way to know this could be by calculating the reasonable amount of time to spend on social networks each day and not to exceed it. If you observe this time during a set time span, you could evaluate it to know if you should improve it. Remember that money should not be wasted and neither should your time. That would be a bad investment.

Instagram, already gives the option to use the App for a set time per day. I use it.

Take care of your reputation on social networks

Something that is very practical is to evaluate the page you have. Ask yourself in case anyone sees it: could they get a good image of me? Do the photos, comments and messages show traits of a well-defined and serious personality? Do they reflect that I have good values or on the contrary leave much to be desired? Do they inspire confidence to be approved for a job or a school?

Questions like these and others will help us to correct the information we post on social networks. Don’t want to be an Influencer at any cost.

Choose your friends wisely

Surely we are careful about inviting anyone to our home, especially when we don’t know them very well.

The same should happen when we have an account. We should be careful when making the selection, that is, when inviting or accepting friends.

In view of this, the list of friends can be reviewed and modified whenever necessary. It is a good idea to set a standard for selecting and accepting friends.

After all, we also do that outside the Internet. For example, in each case we could ask ourselves:

  • What do I know about this person?
  • What kind of photos does he or she upload, and what comments does he or she make?
  • Is he or she a good influence on me?

Learn to choose your friends wisely, that will avoid many problems.

Set up your social network password correctly

Think carefully about what your password should be, so that your account cannot be easily accessed.

For that, do not use common names and/or dates or sequences of numbers, to give you an example. Do not reveal your passwords and keep the good habit of changing them from time to time.

Do not make dates with people you only know through Social Networks. Virtual friends can hide your true personality, hence you should be careful about agreeing to go out with any of them.

Reserve your intimate photos and videos

Avoid sending or posting sexy photos or videos on any Internet site because you don’t know what their fate may be later. Remember: they are intimate photos and videos and not in the public domain.

Take care of your ability to think

Before you act or make a decision, think seriously about the possible problems that may arise.

This will help you to avoid wrongdoing and also to avoid associating with people who may exert an influence towards evil. In other words, the ability to think will protect you from doing anything that will lead you to calamity.

Parents, protect your children

The best way to help them is to know how social networks work. Talk to your children about the potential dangers they face and train them how to defend themselves.

It is always good to approach them when they are on social networks to observe what they are doing.

If they spend a lot of time on them, try to discern the real reason why they are doing it. Excessive use of social networks can be a symptom of anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.

Pay attention to their behavior and when they talk to you, as this will help you realize if they are in danger. Don’t hesitate to delete their Facebook account if necessary.

Your children are a precious gift, so don’t neglect them, don’t let anyone or anything steal their time to care for them!

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