Social Networks and Child Safety

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( — February 18, 2019) — Concerns over child safety in relation to social networks are on the increase. Child protection agencies across the world are trying to improve internet safety as there have been a number of high-profile cases where young children have taken their own life after viewing content on social media sites. The blame has fallen on the algorithms of these social media sites which are allowing harmful content to be viewed by all.

The reason why the algorithms are being blamed is that they work in such a way where if a user searches for a specific type of content i.e. automotive related content, they will see a lot of content related to this topic. The sites do this so that users receive a personal experience. The downside of this is that if someone searches something related to suicide or self-harm for example, they will then also see more and more content related to these topics. It’s clear to therefore see where the issues are as this creates a continuous negative impact on the user.

Some social media sites have responded by stating that in some cases they cannot prevent the content that is viewed until someone reports it. The obvious repercussions of this are that some social media sites are not capable of preventing what children see.

Some governments are therefore looking at social media companies and holding them responsible for the content that they publish. Although they are not wanting to directly censor social media networks, they are trying to push some of the ownership onto the companies so that they will start to put systems in place which will help regulate the industry. They are focussing on protecting young people that use social media.

The effects of social media on young children are clear. A study conducted in the UK highlighted that between 2011 and 2014, self-harm for 13-16-year-old girls rose to 68% and these figures coincide with the rise of social media.

Ideally young children need to have a limited use of social media sites. In order to protect young children from the all of the negatives of social media parents can:

–       Decide upon when you will allow your children to use social media. Look at the minimum age that is required for each site. Reiterate any rules that you have for them when using social media sites.

–       If you provide your child with a laptop ensure that all security systems are up to date. If you’re unsure of this, then check with your local PC, macbook repair centre or an independent stockist who can advise and assist you. Also, remember to check privacy settings.

–       Educate yourself about social media sites and sit your children down and make them aware of the negatives.

–       Where possible, monitor and check the social media accounts that your children have access to.

–       Set your child’s profile to private. Tell your children only to accept friend requests of people they know.

–       Remind children not to give out any details that are personal such as their address or any telephone numbers.