Illustration by Alessandra Soria.
Social Media has been around for only 24 years. Those with phones and computers brought to light Six Degree, a social media platform common in the late 1900s. Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have taken over the media industry since the early 2000s. While they have done much good to the world, they have brought just as much terror.
Social media apps on different mobile devices have set an age limit to who can purchase the app; for Snapchat and Instagram, it is 12 years and older. Twitter has it set at 17 years and older. In reality, these are just filler numbers; children, adolescents, and teenagers find social media extremely easy to access even from a young age.
According to CNN, “the average age for a person to open their first social media account is at the age of 12, and 23% by the ages of 8-12”. These are children who are vulnerable and have no prudence while being online. The internet, social media, websites, and anything that has to do with media has a presence of developing teenagers and a significant number of adults. When it comes to social media, content creators, models, or influencers are not minors. However, many of their viewers and supporters are children. A handful of content is definitely not for children, so why are they viewing it?
Social media has taken over the lives of teenagers; they want to be exactly what they see, they are willing to change their bodies and personalities to fit the “stereotype.” If they are not able to, then depression, low self-esteem, and even identity loss happen. Are they to blame?? No, but it is a series of causes and effects. Children can be compared to sponges; their brains are not fully developed. They are visual learners, not knowing how to distinguish the good from the bad. Social media is still a new concept; there are many generations that are alive to this day who didn’t have the internet. In a way, the world is still trying to adapt, but we are doing it the wrong way.
There should be a higher age limit for children; social media is powerful in the best way when used correctly. While this is a personal decision for parents, shouldn’t the companies take responsibility as well? Yes. These multi-million dollar companies are damaging children and continuing to make a profit off of it. The access they are allowing minors to have needs to be reconsidered.