Despite their benefits, social media platforms have also opened up many doors for danger towards children. Here are some of the top social media sites and the possible perils that your kids may be subjected to.
What it is: With more than 1.11 billion people on it, this is the most-used social networking site. Users can post anything from photographs to videos, status updates, and event invitations, and tag their friends in such posts. When a person is tagged in a particular post, it will then appear on their profile.
Dangers: One has to be at least 13 years of age to have a Facebook account. However, that does not stop many children under
13 from using it. They get around the restriction by faking their ages when signing up, hence exposing themselves to certain dangers. There are privacy settings, which can be set to prevent strangers from seeing your posts, but anyone is able to see your profile picture and cover photo.
In 2011, a German girl mistakenly forgot to set her birthday party invitations on Facebook as private, and about 15,000 people RSVP-ed to the event. Although the party was cancelled, more than 1,500 people still showed up at her home. Two fires were started, many had to be treated for cuts on their feet from broken glasses, and the police had to be called in to manage the situation.
What it is: A photo-sharing tool where you can add artistic filters to your photographs before posting them. You can “follow” others to view their lives through photos. Many youngsters use it for social networking as well, where they leave comments on each other’s photographs.
Dangers: Like Facebook, Instagram has a minimum age requirement of 13, but that can easily be worked around with faked ages. Instagram accounts by default do not have any privacy settings, so unless your child activates them, his photographs can be seen and commented on by anyone. In addition, if your child activates the geotagging function, others will be able to view the locations from which he posted his photos, making it easy for possible predators to locate him. Through following others, your child may also get exposed to indecent content.
What it is: A microblogging platform that allows users to post bite-sized textbased status updates (or “tweets”) of up to 140 characters, as well as photographs. Most youngsters use Twitter to follow their favourite celebrities.
Dangers: Although it is stated by Twitter that pornographic or obscene pictures are not allowed to be used as profile pictures, header pictures, or user backgrounds, there are no rules against users uploading such images in their tweets. Besides, many celebrities don’t often censor their tweets and a number of them post tweets with profanities, or tweet images that might be unsuitable for children to view.
What it is: A video-sharing website where users can watch, upload, and comment on videos of almost any kind, from music videos to vlogs, educational videos, and movie clips. Pornographic videos are prohibited.
Dangers: There are no rules regarding vulgarities on YouTube, so be mindful of what your child might be watching as it could be profanity-laden. Through random searches, your child may come across sordid videos. Although you can’t find full-blown nudity in videos on YouTube, there are a number of music videos that show stars dressed skimpily, showing off dance moves that may be sexually provocative, along with explicit song lyrics.
What it is: A microblogging platform most commonly used for pictures of a creative nature, but sometimes also for users to post a short-form blog. It appeals to children as its pictorial layout is easy on the eye and you can easily “reblog” posts in a single click.
Dangers: Unfortunately, sexual content is allowed on Tumblr, which means that pornography is blatantly available online. Users, who regularly post sexually explicit contents, are required to flag their Tumblrs as Not Safe For Work (NSFW); this is especially useful for those who wish to avoid them. However, that does not guarantee children from ignoring the NSFW warning and they may continue to scroll through such posts.
Would you allow your children to create social media accounts? Share with us your thoughts below.