BUSINESS

Opinion: Children should understand the real world before becoming part of our social world

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Popular social media websites (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook). Photo by Mikael Odum.

Mikael Odum
Oxford Stories
mbodum@go.olemiss.edu

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. allow you to connect to and find just about anyone in the world – from a coworker, to the person you met five years ago in a bar.

Browsing these websites or apps allow people to connect on a larger scale, but such easy, casual connection can be negative.

According to Cornell University’s Steven Strogatz, social networking can make it more difficult to understand whether a relationship is meaningful or casual. Social media enables people to develop important, deep connections without any physical contact or spoken communication.

Social networking plays a huge role in the lives of children, adults, and grandparents. Children cling to social media because they watch older generations.

Social media is addictive for many. Teenagers and adults find satisfaction in social networking by getting comments and “likes,” comparing their lives and fitness routines to others, and connecting with others through “short talk.”

Children today receive cell phones, computers, iPods, etc. for presents as early as 5 or 6. I strongly disagree with giving a child access to technology like this because it teaches them to rely on it.

Technology is taking over the world a little more each day. Instead of meeting new people and making conversation, people immediately look at their phones so they do not have to encounter people they are not completely comfortable around.

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Keyboard of a computer. Photo by Mikael Odum.

Access to technology prevents children from learning on their own. Since they have immediate access to the internet, they want immediate gratification.

Having access to Google, Facebook, Twitter 24-7 makes it harder for children to learn the importance of patience in real life.

Cyberbullying also affects many. Recently, I watched a movie called “Cyberbully about a teenager who was bullied through the internet until she tried to harm herself. The main character’s mother refused to give her a computer until she was older because she knew the consequences. Weeks after getting the computer, the teenager could no longer handle being cyberbullied.

Allowing a child to have connection with millions of strangers is dangerous since the internet cannot be fully monitored or censored. In many cases of cyberbullying, victims have been driven to suicide. In 2010, CBS News reported that 42 percent of youth have been victims of cyberbullying.

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Two students spending time browsing social media. Photo by Mikael Odum.

The overuse of social media is a global mental health problem. Social media isn’t all negative. There are many positive impacts, such as advertising, self expression and promotion, but having access to media at a young age can have consequences.

Laziness and lack of motivation are related to instant gratification. Young people are used to having every answer or problem solved with one click on the search bar. Parents who give children access to this technology early in life are making their child’s life harder in the future.

With recent apps and online services, you can get almost anything delivered to the door of your home, including groceries, food, alcohol, clothes, and almost anything on Amazon.

Technology has made us lazy because we do not have to work to receive, so people sit on their couches or chairs all day. This leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. In order for someone to truly enjoy the world around them, they must explore and value nature.

Children should grow up learning how to do things on their own and understand what it means to read a book or play duck-duck-goose. They should understand the community around them before they  understand the social world we live in.

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