A Changing Childhood

Have you ever taken the time to consider the consequences of social media? The effects such a service may have on you personally and socially? Were you aware that when you signed up for your Instagram account that you check every other minute, the first statement you agreed to on the Terms of Use was that “You must be at least 13 years old to use the Service”? This age restriction was implemented for good reason, no doubt. But thousands of young users, especially young girls, are getting around that age limit and finding themselves less confident. These young girls are putting themselves on Instagram in hopes of being socially accepted. They think that if they post pictures of themselves, their peers will think they are “cool” and, in effect, will want to be their friend. So these young girls obsess over how they look, what they are wearing, who they are with, and how many likes and comments they receive on their photos.

The worst part about the whole issue is that the motive behind many get-togethers for this age group of girls is ‘the picture’ for their profile. They’ll go on a fun outing to a park with interactive activities and after taking ‘the picture’ will just sit on a park bench instead of enjoying the day at the park with their friends. The same goes for if they were having a sleepover; many girls will go to the party, put their PJs and eye masks on, pose for a picture and then resume to slumping on the couch with minimal conversation among their ‘friends’. These young girls are putting on a huge façade to the social media world. Their profiles make them seem to be normal young ladies who are being silly with their friends, but in reality they are yearning for acceptance. They are constantly watching to see if they will have the most ‘likes’ on their picture out of all the girls in their grade because, in their eyes, that is what defines whether you are ‘cool’ or not. Remember when you’d here people talk about someone’s birthday party you weren’t invited to while swinging on the playground at recess and how upset you’d be for being left out? Well now whenever these young girls go on Instagram and see pictures of their ‘friends’ out together without them, that is the same feeling they experience and re-experience every time they open their feed. Even if these young girls do have the best of friends, they cannot help but feeling left out when they browse their social media. This is plunging their self-esteem downward and wasting much of their time.

With two younger sisters of my own, I have seen this type of activity occur on multiple occasions. Childhood is very different than it once was and social media has changed that in drastic ways. It seems as though kids aren’t being allowed to be kids anymore. Instead, they are feeling as though they constantly have to measure up to someone on an Internet site. We can’t let the next generation become caught up on how many likes and comments they receive. But in a world that is leaning further and further into the world of social media, the big question is, how should we go about attacking this rapid growing issue?

Photo Credits: ABC News – Rheana Murray


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