Children and social media

Children and social media

Leaders Community IBM Class – Professional Class & Magister Management Program STIE IBMT Surabaya, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s warning about children’s easy access to social media during the commemoration of National Children’s Day on Sunday only underlines growing global concern about the adverse impacts of social media on our children.

Like it or not, social media is putting children at risk of crimes, bullying or even radical views. The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has detected a rise in the number of crimes perpetrated against children that take advantage of social media activities, from 100 cases in 2011 to 322 in 2014. The real figure could be higher, as many cases might have gone unreported or have been swept under the carpet.

Parents, schools and the state alike are aware of the danger facing children when they access social media, but there is no consensus yet as to how to work together to protect kids from harm in the cyber world.

Authorities can block or even ban websites that are deemed to be endangering children, but information technology has advanced so quickly that such an approach is ineffective. A thousand websites may be shut down today, but 10,000 sites carrying the same content will arise tomorrow.

Parents and schools should play the key role in protecting children against adverse impacts of social media. Either party, however, cannot do it all alone; only if the two trust and help each other can they fulfill their bid to keep children safe and sound.

Elementary and junior high schools may ban students’ use of smartphones on school premises, but they have no power to ensure parents will enforce the same policy at home. In many cases, parents tend to relax the rules by giving their children access to the internet without enough guidance.

Parents may have their own justification for giving their children free rein over smartphones, and hence uninhibited access to social media. Parents often cite a need for smartphones to facilitate monitoring of and communication with their children in various ways, including through video calls.

Reality, however, shows the opposite. Gadgets and smartphones barely have anything to do with the tagline “connecting the family.”

Anecdotes abound of families going out for dinner “together” with neither adults nor children able to leave their smartphones just for a second.

A survey conducted by Sheffield University in the United Kingdom earlier this year discovered a saddening state of affairs when it comes to children’s social media activity. As reported by the Guardian, the study found that the more time children spend in online networks, the less happy they feel about their school work, the school they attend, their appearance, their family and their life overall. Social media seems to be a place where children can find what they do not receive from their parents.

Information technology does lead children to new knowledge that will expand their horizon, but parental and school guidance is crucial.

News source : The Jakarta Post, Tue, July 25, 2017