Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Sunday Natter: why I'm glad social media didn't exist when I was a kid


Social media is no longer a thing of the past, in fact it's reached the point where it's slowly becoming our future. Now, I'm not going to lie and say I absolutely hate the idea because I don't. It does have it's advantages, it's powerful, you can keep in touch with all your friends, family, stay on track with the latest info and its statistics have a great effect on your success but it also causes a lot of problems and is often the barrier to normality. Having young children around me, I've witnessed first hand how controlling it's becoming. 2 year olds are being bought iPhones, 10 year olds are oozing to become the next Zoella. Soon enough, babies are going to be born with a full set of social media accounts and a whole load of pointless drama behind them. I'm the traditional kind so I believe children should be children until they're old enough to find their own, individual steps in life which is why today's Sunday Natter post is about why I'm glad the internet take over wasn't around when I was younger (my oh my, don't I feel old!).

I actually had the access and freedom to express the characteristics of being a kid. | From the age of 3 to around 12, all I did was play outside with the other kids on the street. I experienced the fresh air, was able to enjoy direct socialising and racing down the hill on my push scooter was actually pretty beneficial exercise-wise. Now it seems more children are cooped up indoors with only their technology for company and FaceTime for their interaction between friends. Gone are the days you used to knock on your neighbours' door from morning to night begging them to play out or inviting yourself in for tea. Hello are the days you ditch the exploration for locking yourself in your room like a hermit. I remember loving my Bratz dolls and Betty Spaghetti figures right up until the start of high school and now those are being ditched and replaced with parties and underage drinking advertised all over Facebook. Not only that, children are so easily brought down by others if they're not participating in the typical 'mature' activities and thinking about it, it's actually quite sad. Unfortunately, I think they're missing out on the finer, less advanced things in life.

Communication was obtainable. | There's nothing like having your head stuck in your phone scrolling through Instagram and Twitter to stop you from conversing. We all do it, admittedly I lose all concentration within an instance, but when children are blocking out nearly all interaction it becomes an issue in all directions. I feel like face to face communication is no longer key: kids are in their own social media bubble at family gatherings and the opportunities of sitting down together and talking is limited. Not only is allowing your child to ignore any public event and/or everyday connection an annoyance, it's also quite problematic. It seems social media is a place headed to when thoughts and feelings (whether that be from excitement or sadness and concern) are needed to be vented and I don't know about anyone else, but if I had a child, I'd like them to be as open and honest as possible, away from the internet. We can't even savour the moment anymore without directing it to strangers and craving attention has become all too familiar. 

I didn't feel pressurised to grow up. | I almost feel sorry for the children of today because adult-like behaviours are thrown and forced upon them way too quickly. I have such a biased opinion towards YouTuber's, 'Twitter famous' people and more than often, false representations of whom they really are. In some ways they can be a role model to a child, but in others they set boundaries that children are eager to imitate. I can't remember ever being so knowledgable on makeup or subject to a duck pose and a selfie during my single figured youth and now, it's crazy how children are cultivated on trivial matters, shoving the education side of things to the back of their mind. Understandably, children love to be the best version of themselves but what concerns me is, some don't even know their identification yet. It's difficult growing up and being dependent on only one certain way to act is surely going to make it worse. Children don't need to be competing with each other, they shouldn't have to log on to the internet to see someone they wish to be and start downgrading themselves. Plus, it would save some future embarrassment. Cringe-worthy moments are all part of developing, but I have a feeling the YOLO sayings will be a head in hand kind of matter in 10 years time. 

It was a safer place. | The current world is a scary place, the world of social media is even more frightening. The proven fact that parents aren't always aware of what children are exposed to online is a cause for concern. There's no doubt about it, children are going to become more and more attached to social media and the Internet which is why I think it's so important to advise and make them aware of what they share. When I was a kid, the only access to a computer I had was the gigantic kind with dial up broadband, Eastenders makeover game and the CBBC message boards. Now, just clicking on one link can lead to danger. It's not guaranteed children are protected from harm on their social media accounts and I just don't think I'd be able to put my trust into them. The same goes for shaming, labelling and stereotyping. Bullying is another negative factor of the rise in social media. It has existed for years but now it seems more and more bullies are getting away with demeaning and barbaric nastiness through anonymous cyber bullying. This can lead to a huge downfall in a child's self esteem and well being leading to much deeper consequences. Evolving through life is tough enough without social media being added to the mix and I'm so glad I wasn't part of that.

I was able to make my own mind up and see things for how they really were. | With social media comes the actual media and with the actual media, comes in your face headlines, demoralising opinions, lies, false bullshit, a need for negative attention, narcissism and drama. I don't think it's necessary for children to be introduced to a debating society, escalating arguments, lack of decision making, and only one version of the truth. Social media shows signs of all this involvement and it's something children are starting to become obsessed with and attached to. Falling back on my previous points, I think you should let children learn as they go along and allow them to strive for an ordinary life. After all, at that age, the pleasure of rolling around in mud is much more interesting than how many likes you can get.

What are your thoughts on children and social media?

Bridie x
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