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Risks of Children Using Social Media

Jackson Nielsen

Currently, as a society, we live in a digital age where a majority of the population has a smart device somewhere on their body and can be connected to people globally. While this is great and many adults would struggle to go a day without their smart devices, there is a darker side to social media that is being brought to light. Recently, five chief executives of big tech companies sat before The Senate Judiciary Committee and were relentlessly grilled on their safety and privacy policies as they pertain to children. This included TikTok CEO Shou Chew and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. These companies were exposed in the hearing for not taking the safety of the children who are on the various platforms seriously and seeing them more as a dollar amount than a human being.

This issue was brought about by both parties who came together to see that whatever wrongdoing is being done by these companies is put to an end. While there may be disagreements amongst the parties, they both agreed that the protection of children online is an important topic (Duffy, Fung 2024). The main concern within these hearings was the dangers the platforms pose to children; specifically dealing with “sexual predators, videos encouraging suicide and glorifying eating disorders, bullying and addictive features, just to name a few” (Ortutay 2024). 

Stemming from these recent concerns with the safety of children online is the Kids Online Safety Act as well as other measures to keep children safe in the digital world. These include better safeguards to keep young kids off the platforms entirely. But the problem with this is that there is no good way to verify a user’s age when signing up for these platforms. Furthermore, these apps were created for adults and children were an afterthought (Singer 2024). To me, these executives need to be held accountable for the travisties that have transpired due to the unsafe environment that has been created for children online. Big changes need to be put in place to stop any further mental health issues, bullying, and even suicides. No longer should people sit idly by while children are being exposed to explicit content on the web while executives, like Zuckerberg and Chew, continue to make millions of dollars off of the exploitation of these kids. There are states taking steps in the right direction but drastic changes need to be made to keep the future generations safe from the wrongdoing that can be found online.

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