Why is this topic a controversy today? Social media is considered to be any website that allows social interaction. (pediatrics) These include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and gaming sites to name a few. Social media is a controversial topic, as it is believed that the youth of today spend far too much time using social media instead of interacting face -to-face with people. Therefore it is possible that they lack the proper communication skills they will require to be successful in life.
Most jobs require face-to-face interaction. Children have too much access too and are spending too much time using forms of social media. 52% of all children now have access to one of the new mobile devices at home (smartphone, ipad, etc. ) (commonsensemedia. org) According to a recent poll, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day and more than half of adolescents log onto a social media site more than once a day. pediatrics) By the age of 5 more than 50% of children regularly interact with a computer or tablet device, and by 7 or 8 they regularly play video games and teenagers text an average of 3,400 times a month. (www. cnn) These are just a few of the available stats to support the inappropriate amount of time spent on social media of the youth today. It is through the childhood and teenage years that one develops socially and emotionally.
It appears that most of this generations’ social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and cell phones. 75%of teenagers now own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54% use them for texting, and 24% use them for instant messaging. (pediatrics) According to another study, kids that spent more time using social media reported lower grades, and lower levels of personal contentment, more likely to get in trouble, more sad, and more bored. (commonsensemedia. rg) A major controversy is that some children are accessing inappropriate sites as there are no protective safeguards to prevent this. One such example is Facebook which requires users to be at least 13 years of age to open an account. Last year more than 7. 5 million American kids under the age of 13 had joined Facebook. (www. cnn. com) The time spent using social media takes a child/youth away from actual physical activity. We are already considered to have a large obese population; this will just continue to foster that.
This in turn leads to other problems such as increased health issues and in turn increased medical costs for a society that already has a health system that is being taxed due to insufficient funding and staffing. A final but very significant area of controversy due to the use of social media by today’s youth is the increase in cyber bullying. It is far easier to say something online than it is to someone’s face. There are several alarming statistics with regard to cyber bullying. Below are just a few from the site (www. internetsafety101. rg) -66% of teens who have witnessed online cruelty have also witnessed others joining:21% say they have also joined in the harassment -52% of parents are worried their child will be bullied via social networking sites -1 in 6 parents know their child has been bullied through a social networking site -one million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyber bullying on Facebook during the past year. How are children and youth being represented? Children are being represented as the major users of social media, and therefore they are focusing their sites to attract the child users.
Children are drawn to use social media as it is a very human need to be heard and connect with others and there is a desire to make a difference and influence the world around them. (blog neilson) Although there are many negatives attached to social media, one of which is that social media takes children and youth away from reading traditional books. Another side of this equation is to find innovative ways to use social media to motivate children and youth to learn about books or obtaining information from other sources than traditional reading material.