I recently shared the positive benefits to our children when they participate in social media/social networking sites. A few of the many benefits include: developing technical skills necessary to participate in 21st century communication technology, contributing to the general circulation of culture, extending friendships and interests, and teaching our children to leverage the benefits of technology into the service of helping themselves and their community.
The problem right now, in my opinion, is that no one has set out to protect minors from the fall-out of what happens when children participate in online communities created by adults for adults.
While the benefits of participating in social media are plentiful, the negatives are devastating and unacceptable.
Take “Brand A”, for example. Brand A markets itself as: the 3rd largest social network in the United States with over 80 million members worldwide.
Brand A is a social media company that:
- Sexualizes kids.
- Allows for participation in a culture that, if the computer wasn’t involved, would be illegal.
- Expose kids to negative content and a culture that they’d likely never see.
- Allows minors to put themselves in a position where they will likely will be agressively sexually solicited.
- Allows minors to be in danger of losing their true selves.
This is wrong. We as parents have to help change things for our kids.
“James H, 15 likes sucking _ick and _ucking black males 14, 15,16.”
This young 17 year old, with her profile “set to private”, sadly thinks this is the best way to portray who she is.
The statistics that have come to life:
- 20% of teens have electronically sent or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures of video of themselves**.
- 39% of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages.**
Why is this happening?
- 44% of both girl and boy teens have said they sent messages or images in response to such content they received.**
- Almost half of all teens have received sexually suggestive messages.**
Brands Profit -
- M Radio and LG Profit by associating their brand through advertising with this content.
Without a computer involved, (at least in the case of the boy) this activity would be illegal: creation of child pornography. In the case of the girl, best described as: unacceptable. Degrades and devalues the person she is.
Please don’t run and unplug your computer or eliminate Internet access. Instead use your knowledge to spread the word and create positive change for our kids. We have to do this together.
I hope the facts that I reveal here help you understand why I’ve committed myself, (including my husband and family, Lee and Kathryn Rees, our investors, and the rest of the dedicated Yoursphere Media Inc. team) to changing the environment our kids socially network on through Yoursphere.com . As well, why I’ve decided to become an advocate for parent education and involvement regarding social media participation and the Internet.
Look for Part 2 in this series that shares how “Brand B” monetizes itself (and boasts about an increase in profits), due in part to an application that “buys and sells people”. No, that’s not a slip of the keyboard.
**The National Campaign.org/Sex and Tech CosmoGirl, 2009