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KOLI: Parents must monitor their children's social media usage

Column: Talk More

If parents fail to limit their children's social media usage, they are exposing them to potential mental health issues, online harassment and other significant risks. – Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem / Unsplash

How many times have you seen a child with a phone in hand and their eyes glued to the screen? The answer is too many to count.

One thing the younger generations are known for is their relationship with technology. Generation Alpha, in particular, is growing up in a world where it is a prominent part of their developmental years.

In the 2000s, when the first versions of modern-day smartphones were introduced to the world, older generations had to learn to adapt to this new technology. People born around the time smartphones and tablets were gaining popularity grew up with technology, but they were not as exposed to it to the same extent as children are now.

It took time for parents to start using these devices, let alone allowing their children to use them.

At this point in time, we are comfortable using technology for more than just calling or surfing the internet. We rely on technology for the internet, texting, entertainment, news, photos and much more.

Younger generations are more exposed to technology because many adults use it for educational purposes. For instance, YouTube has numerous videos made by professors, teachers or just ordinary people to teach others about a certain topic.

Understandably, information technology like YouTube or Google is convenient and, in some cases, can be a tool to help people conceptualize things or communicate better.

Additionally, letting children use technology can help pacify them or keep them occupied, but this becomes an issue when technology is used as the solution for every single problem that arises.

Technology should never be a replacement for teaching or parenting. It is easy to pacify an upset child by handing them a phone to play games or watch videos, but they are not learning discipline.

Moreover, making kids watch videos instead of actively teaching a lesson is not an effective method of teaching because the information might not be accurate, and kids have no way of seeking help.

Not only are they using technology at a young age, but they are also exposed to the same content online as adults are, like social media. Children learn from watching the people around them, especially their parents or older siblings.

If the adults in their lives, considered to be their role models, are using social media around them, they are likely to want to use it too. Once children have access to social media, the adults in their lives neglect being the needed mentors for their kids.

They can talk to any person online regardless of whether they know them or not. Children do not have the capability to tell whether something online is safe or potentially harmful.

For example, Snapchat is more than an app with funny filters and cute Bitmojis. It can get dangerous when predators online target young kids, send inappropriate photos and messages and leech information out of them.

When children become too comfortable with an online presence, especially on apps like Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, they tend to forget boundaries.

Oftentimes, this results in talking to people years older than them, posting embarrassing or personal information and communicating with friends exclusively online. When children spend more time making friends online, it affects how they communicate with people in real life because they lack the proper skills.

Children who started using social media before the age of 11 who checked social media often were involved in more online harassment than older kids and teenagers, according to a study done on human behavior.

The same study showed that these children can also experience FOMO, or "fear of missing out." Children should enjoy their childhood to the fullest extent instead of worrying about what people are doing online.

A lot of online content is fake or glamorized, and using social media can cause people to set unrealistic standards for themselves based on what they see, creating anxiety or low confidence. This is especially detrimental for children because they are forced to grow up and change themselves to be more like the people they see online.

Censoring what your child can or cannot see is tricky. We only know a small percentage of what is on the internet, so there is no way to control what videos, advertisements or apps will reach a certain audience.

It is impossible to live in a world without technology since it has already been integrated into our lives to a great extent. Instead, adults should try to control the amount of technology their kids consume and be attentive to what apps they are using.

Vidhi Koli is a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, where she is undecided. Her column, 'Talk More,' runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 900 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 900 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day's publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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