Week 6: Save the Children, Save the World.

Children are being exposed to the Internet, social networks, and various digital media technologies much earlier in their lives than any generation ever before. With this premature exposure to online content comes parental fear and moral panic that author danah boyd* believes to be described as, “when the public comes to believe that a cultural artifact, practice, or population threatens social order.” This content surrounds issues of not only online predators and sexuality, but also of cyberbullying.

According to Parents.com, our children and teens spend up to seven hours per day on electronic devices. “One in six 6- to 9-year-olds and one in five 8- to 9-year-olds have experienced what parents consider objectionable or aggressive behavior online.” Although girls are generally more targeted than boys on these technologies, both genders are subject to be active proponents and receivers of cyberbullying. In light of the serious mental health effects cyberbullying has on our children and teens today, websites and apps are taking precautions to prevent this online abuse in as many ways as possible.

Apps like, Mobicip, limit a child’s time on certain social networks and block adult websites from search results.

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Other apps like, Safe Eyes, enforce strict and filtered search results to limit a child’s accessibility to profane and inappropriate website content.

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One of the most severe, but effective, apps out there is called, SafetyWeb, and actively tracks all activity on social media networks, Internet searches, and even text messages. Although invasive, and potentially unethical, this app provides parents with the relief and overseeing abilities they need to protect their child from harmful online predators and peer cyberbullies.

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The ethics behind these tracking sites is definitely a debatable topic. However, at earlier stages in a child’s development, there should be no reason for children this young to be on social media in elementary school, and potentially be exposed to inappropriate and unsafe content by peers and older acquaintances. Ultimately, this exposure shapes both child and teen behavior, and these apps take the extra step to help prevent any negative influences from becoming a permanent mindset on developing children in our societies today.

*danah boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2014), chapters four and five.

5 thoughts on “Week 6: Save the Children, Save the World.

  1. emdesur

    I don’t like the idea of these apps because I believe if a child isn’t old enough to be trusted by their parent on the social media, they aren’t old enough to be on social media. There should be a certain level of trust that accompanies parents letting their children go on social media and these apps seem to be for nosy parents that are only pretending to trust their children’s use of social media. It doesn’t seem like these apps would protect from cyber-bullying, but would only satisfy nosy parents’ curiosity.

  2. natalypalma

    I worry about kids being on the internet too much. I recently went to eat at a restaurant and there was a dinner party there. The adults all sat in one table and the children in the other. The children were aged 5-15ish and they were all sitting and on their phones/ipads. I know some children who have iphones and they are 6 years old. I think this is diminishing childhood and if you decide to give your 6 y/o a iphone then you should definitely download one of those timed apps to limit your child’s usage. I love my iphone and the internet, but there are limitations ALWAYS. There should be, at least!

  3. frcarbonellm

    Although when I was first checking out these apps all I could think about was how it felt like an invasion of privacy, after reflecting on it I realized that you are right, the kids whose parents should be using these apps are probably young and therefore shouldn’t really be on social media. You know, this piece had me thinking, I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 17 and now at work I sell phones to 5 year olds even. I have on various occasions had parents ask me about parental control on our devices or apps to keep their children safe. I’ll admit I was ignorant on the topic but after reading this I feel like I can share this with my clients if they inquire. Even though many social media outlets have “legal age requirements”, I believe we are probably all guilty of having lied about our age online before. Realistically even though these kids may be too young for social media, they are on it and will continue to seek mediums of it. Thanks for sharing these tools, I enjoyed your piece.

  4. sjanetos

    Totally agree that eleentary school is too young for the internet!! And also agree with the debatable ethics of tracking childrens internet usage. It seems that with these blocking apps, we’re almost blaming the victim, by shielding a victimized child from profane content, instead of stopping people from posting profane content in the first place.

  5. abwrubel

    This conversation more so has to do with subjective thoughts on parenting. Yes, the internet should be regulated, to some degree, for the sake of younger children. As younger and younger kids are given technological devices with access to the internet, some parental guidance or restrictions should be enforced to make sure that children don’t encounter inappropriate content. However, this line of supervision shouldn’t be overstepped. Children should be given some freedom when it comes to the internet, as to not prevent the natural process of maturation from occurring.

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