Florida lawmakers are making a move that could result in a ban that would prohibit K-12 students from using TikTok. Chief Financial Officer for the State of Florida, Jimmy Patronis, has indicated that TikTok is summarily unfit for K-12 students. TikTok has been referred to as digital fentanyl, cementing a strong implication that TikTok is highly addictive.
There is a strong and persistent fear that social media apps like TikTok can hinder children’s chances to develop social skills. The content on TikTok can also be highly addictive and even dangerous to children.
Moreover, TikTok can be downright dangerous for children, especially the challenges. TikTok challenges include a dizzying array of dangerous challenges that prompt people to do foolish things like lick random surfaces to prove that they are not afraid of getting COVID or performing acts that could result in serious injury. When kids decide to attempt performing TikTok challenges, they can get hurt or even killed.
These are all reasons why preventing children from using TikTok at school might actually be a good thing. Let’s face it, we already spend too much time on TikTok as adults, and kids should have better opportunities to develop social skills. Here’s why we should all be concerned about the uptick in the number of kids using social media before they are mentally prepared for it.
The Risks of Children Using Social Media
Social media can be a powerful tool for kids to connect with one another, share experiences, and learn about the world. However, it can also be dangerous if not used properly. Kids are vulnerable to online predators, cyberbullying, identity theft, and other threats.
They can be exposed to inappropriate content or become addicted to social media. Parents must recognize the risks and take steps to keep their kids safe while they use social media. Let’s look at some of the most important dangers of social media and what parents can do to keep their kids safe.
Risk of Online Predators
Online predators use social media to identify and meet potential victims. Some may pose as a child’s friend to trick them into revealing personal information. Others may create fake social media accounts to lure kids into conversations that may lead to an attempt to set up a meeting. Predators may target kids at school or online for many different reasons, but regardless of the motivation, the risk is real.
Parents have a critical role to play in protecting their kids from online predators. They can educate kids about social media dangers and model appropriate online behavior. Parents can also install and use social media safety applications to help protect kids from online predators. Alternatively, parents can prevent children from using dangerous social media apps until they are old enough to understand the risks.
Threat of Cyberbullying
Many children and teens feel the urge to post pictures of themselves online; unfortunately, not every reaction is a good reaction, as this often results in cyberbullying.
Teens need to learn how to control their social media posts and not post anything that would cause them to become a target for cyber bullies.
Cyberbullying can cause serious psychological damage and even lead to suicide. Parents can help their kids recognize when they’re being bullied online and help them find ways to cope and get away from their bullies.
Exposure to Inappropriate Content
While social media can be great for connecting with friends and family, it also holds a wealth of inappropriate content. Kids are exposed to sexual images and videos, cyberbullying, and other dangers when browsing social media sites. Most social media sites have a “mature” or “explicit” filter that’s meant to block explicit content.
However, these settings are often too restrictive, resulting in many kids being blocked from using social media altogether. Parents need to manage these restrictions carefully.
They can also help kids understand the dangers of being exposed to inappropriate content when using social media. Parents can remind kids that social media posts don’t disappear once they’re online.
Risk of Identity Theft
Social media provides an opportunity for identity theft. When kids sign up for new accounts or upload their own pictures and videos, they increase their chances of having their identities stolen, especially when they list their birthdays and home address on their profiles.
Identity thieves can then use the information from these accounts to commit fraud or even pose as the original user. Parents can help their kids keep their passwords safe by teaching them not to share their passwords with anyone and to keep their passwords out of the trash.
Social Media Addiction
For some kids, social media can become an addiction. This can happen when social media provides an escape from real-world problems like peer pressure, schoolwork, or family issues. While online social interaction can be a healthy outlet for some kids, others can become addicted to the attention they receive from their peers while using social media. There are a number of ways parents can help prevent their kids from becoming addicted to social media.
Parents should monitor their kids’ social media use and warn them about the dangers of becoming addicted. Parents can also help their kids understand that real friendships take time and effort and shouldn’t be based solely on online interactions.
Tips for Keeping Kids Safe on Social Media
Parents have the ultimate responsibility of keeping their kids safe online. This can be done by teaching kids how to navigate social media safely and what kinds of social media interactions are safe and appropriate.
Here are some tips to help parents can keep their kids safe while on social media.
- Don’t allow your child to have access to your social media accounts.
- Use social media safety applications to help protect your child from online dangers.
- Teach your child how to navigate social media’s filtering systems.
- Help your child understand that real friendships take time and effort and shouldn’t be based solely on online interactions.
By exercising common sense, parents can help keep their children safe online while using social media. Although a variety of simple security practices can reduce the risks children face when using social media, platforms like TikTok remain particularly dubious.