Generation Alpha — a generation full of children growing up with nothing but screens and visual stimulation coming from all directions. Though, just how harmful are these medias to these children, and why are parents doing nothing to stop it?
You can probably find a child in today’s world with their nose stuck into a screen, watching TikTok or other video apps with their utmost attention. But social media has turned into such a harmful and damaging environment, and without proper parental supervision, can change a child’s mind for the worse.
Instead of reading books or going outside to play, many kids are now choosing to play games on their fingerprint-smudged iPads. They are then exposed to all sorts of rude and ironic behaviors that they then adopt into their real-life personalities. “Skibidi toilet”, for example, is an internet meme that has completely dominated over children’s behaviors. Simply a 30-second video on YouTube showing an animated man singing in a toilet, it is almost outrageous as to how anyone could find it appealing. However, tons of kids quote this meme on a daily basis, usually screaming it at the top of their lungs in the middle of class or at a restaurant.
Moreover, social media apps are also dangerous in many other ways. As of late, social media apps such as Tiktok and Instagram have turned into awful havens for avid consumption of the beauty industry. And for young pre-teen girls, the beauty standard and its trends are possibly the worst issue to settle into their brains.
The entire Sephora ten-year-old trend on Tiktok is a prime example of how social media consumerism deeply affects the way these girls’ minds develop. Videos on the platform show these ten-year-olds, fully decked out in $100 athletic wear, running around the cosmetic store looking for items that they do not even need. Why is a ten-year-old looking for a retinol product, a chemical that tightens skin to reduce wrinkles? They are playing into the obvious marketing tactics that the videos they are watching are using on them. These trends are simple campaigns for the beauty industry to target their audience’s insecurities. When especially viewed by young children, they cannot grasp the fact that these trends are just simple consumerist propaganda aimed at their under-developed brains.
Yet, the parents of Generation Alpha kids are doing virtually nothing to combat the evils of social media. Oftentimes, they will use screens to quiet down their children out of annoyance. In restaurants, it is now a common sight to see entire families looking at their phones, not communicating with one another. Technology is a tool used by most parents to actively calm down their child, not noticing how this could cause an addiction. Parents are even giving their kids their own phone at very early ages — sometimes even as early as seven or eight years old. Their children are basically immersed in technology and all sorts of media the second they pop out of the womb.
Parental supervision is almost rare these days; most children are able to watch anything they would like without consequence. Especially when social media is such a harmful platform, it is so dangerous for children with zero supervision. Most definitely because cyber bullying comes along right with it.
However, these parents are quick to point fingers at the large conglomerate companies behind social media apps for harming their children. In a recent hearing between the US Senate Judiciary Committee and the CEOs of popular social media apps, the harmful effects of social media on children was argued. Senate majority Whip Dick Durbin, claims that the CEOs of apps such as Tiktok and X are “responsible for many of the dangers our children face online,” attributing it to their pursuit of profit and engagement. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, was also made to apologize to the families of victims affected by cyberbullying.
“[I am] sorry for everything [you have] been through,” Zuckerberg said. “No one should have to go through what you and your families have suffered.”
Despite this hearing, many people are pointing fingers towards parents of these children instead of the CEOs of these social media platforms. It is not the company’s job to actively monitor the child’s activity on their app. Even though there are successful preventative measures that these apps adopt to avoid online bullying, it is mainly the parents’ job to completely prevent it all from happening.
Instead of leaving children alone to watch and post whatever they want, parents should actively monitor their devices and turn on any parental controls. Especially when dealing with young children, blocking out certain age-limited content and checking for any dangerous messages is so helpful. This new generation of children can completely avoid the evils of social media — but the parents have to pitch in too.