Social Media: Toxic for Children?

April 13, 2018

Facebook president’s marathon testimony sets the stage for some government action on the social media company. Bubbling beneath the surface, in my opinion, was the idea that Facebook influenced the 2016 presidential election, either wittingly or unwittingly. The math club culture, however, is pleased with its revenue, not the grilling.

Social media is a well-known grounds for toxic thought and behavior for adults. Shaming, bad mouthing, spreading rumors, and even more damaging acts have been attributed to Twitter, Facebook and the like. As bad as we know this world is, our children are experiencing just as nasty of an environment, one study suggests. We learned more in a recent Independent article, “Two in Five Children Made Anxious Every Week, When Using The Internet, Research Says.”

According to the story:

“Almost half of young people said that in the last year they had experienced someone being mean to them over the internet – or they had been excluded online, new research has revealed…. “Meanwhile, eight per cent of schoolchildren surveyed said these negative experiences happened to them all or most of the time, according to the poll.”

Sadly, this has become an unavoidable part of adolescence. It is impossible to shield children from this kind of behavior, but the Independent story doesn’t really offer a solution. Some experts have an interesting one: stay online. Much like standing up to a schoolyard bully in past years, this psychologist says children should not ignore or block a bully, but push back. Stand up for themselves and hopefully others will too, which will drive the bully off. It’s a bold thought for a problem that is dominating young minds today.

After more than a decade of “let them go,” some changes may be difficult because social media has transformed some hearts and minds.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2018


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