Editorial: Should Children Be Using Social Media?

By Brianna McDonough

Class of 2016

Facebook requires that users by thirteen years old to create an account, yet this age requirement is constantly violated. As modern society becomes more technologically advanced more children use technology to stay connected. Millions of people around the world use social media every day. But should children be allowed to use social networking? Although social networking allows children to easily connect with their friends, children should not use social networking because it leads to lower grades in school and cyberbullying.

Through the use of social networking, children can stay connected with friends. The Social Age report for online safety found that nearly fifty percent of children are social networking by age ten. Many children and teens cite social media as having a positive effect on their social life. A report by Common Sense Media found that one in five children feels more confident from having used social networking. A study by the MacArthur Foundation found that using social networking can help children develop social skills. Children are able to develop friendships and communicate online, which is often easier and less stress-inducing for shy children than meeting friends face-to-face. The use of social networking allows children to communicate with friends and maintain a social life.

The use of social networking is not without dangers, as it can lead children to have lower grades in school. Checking social networks takes time away from studying and completing assignments. A study by California State University found that students who check Facebook once every fifteen minutes receive lower grades than their peers. A similar study by the Open University of the Netherlands found that students who use social media while doing homework receive grades twenty percent lower than their peers. Social media is a distraction for students trying to get work done. Many young students think that they can multitask: do their work and check social media at the same time. Yet it is difficult for the brain to focus on more than one task at a time. Multitasking actually increases the length of time required to accomplish a task, making social networking a time waster for students. Lower grades are the result of the distraction of social networking on younger students.

The use of social networking puts children at risk for cyberbullying, which occurs when one child is harassed, threatened, or mocked by another child online. According to data from the Cyberbullying Research Center, almost thirty-five percent of children admit to being cyberbullied, which can have disastrous effects on a child’s self-esteem, leading to psychological problems and even suicidal thoughts or actions. Eighty percent of students think that cyberbullying is easy to get away with because the bullies can hide behind a screen. As the number of social networking sites increases and more children are using social networking, there are more opportunities to be cyberbullied. Cyberbullying is harmful and can be avoided by preventing children from using social networking.

While social networking may be fun, it can be harmful to children, leading to lower grades and cyberbullying. Social networking affects social, academic, and emotional aspects of a child’s life, often for the worse. With so many negative effects, children should not be allowed to use social networking in order to be successful and happy. Facebook and so many other social networking sites set age requirements for a reason. Should these requirements set to protect today’s children be ignored?

Brianna McDonough is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition.