The internet can be a place of knowledge and opportunities, but should children be exposed to it?
Over the years, we have seen an increasing number of young children accessing the internet. As the global pandemic necessitated avoiding physical contact between people, the world has continued to further rely on technology.
Nowadays, it is not only adults who use online platforms, but we also see children with a digital footprint. This has raised an important question in the minds of concerned adults: is it safe for children to have an online presence on the internet? Should parents allow them to interact with others through online media?
Children are still in the vulnerable stages of their life and exposing them to the world wide web unsupervised at this young age can negatively impact them, or worse, put them in danger.
One of the many undesirable effects that exposure to online platforms can have on children is misinformation. Children are more impressionable and exposing them to platforms wherein unsubstantiated and false claims run rampant at a tender age without proper guidance can make them develop misguided ideas about a variety of things.
Furthermore, children are not fully developed yet, as they will continue to mature and learn how to use these internet platforms responsibly with age. By allowing them to regularly use the internet at a young age, they can acquire an overreliance on technology that could hinder their social development. They can also miss out on important experiences one learns as a child if they acquire an addiction to these electronic devices.
Studies conducted by scientists regarding the correlation between social media and adolescents show that the increased usage of online platforms is linked to feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem among the participants. A much larger problem stems from the fact that these studies were conducted on adolescents. Seeing as how this transitional age group already suffers consequences from the use of social media, how much more severely could these platforms affect children? A much younger demographic who are in the stage of their lives when they are merely starting to develop themselves?
There is also the risk that children might be exposed to predators online if they put themselves out on the internet. Some of these children might not be aware of it, but there are ill-intentioned people online who wish to take them for granted under the guise of being their acquaintance. Unfortunately, there have been countless instances in the past where young children decided to physically meet up with someone they met online, only for the other person to take advantage over them. In the worst-case scenario, these occurrences have led to children being sexually assaulted and kidnapped.
Young children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. That is why it is crucial to defend them from the hazards of the online world until they grow up and learn how to protect themselves online.
Even if their parents still wish to allow them to use the internet at a young age, they should at least show accountability by monitoring their child’s internet usage and protecting them from the dangers presented by the online landscape. After all, preventing, or at the very least limiting, their use of the internet can stop or curb the negative effects.
The internet should not be viewed as a bad influence on children entirely, though. Even though it has its risks, it can be used as a tool to create progress through enlightenment.
For example, the influence of the internet can help spread awareness towards social injustices pervading the world. In this instance, children can harness the power of the internet to stay informed and enact a positive change in the world, however small it may be.
By educating the young about the risks of the online world, we can turn the negatives into positives by raising a newer generation that can use the power of the internet responsibly in order to make a change.