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The Dangers of the Web

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Is the internet safe for children? That is a concern that most parents consider when giving their children access to the web. We live in a generation where technology is at your fingertips, at your every beck and call, and while that is often a convenient thing for most adults, how safe is it for youth? Each day there are new cases of kids and teens going missing at the hands of predators online, taking that innocence for granted. There were more than 29 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation in 2021 alone. Not only do we see missing cases, but we also see incidents of many impressionable youth being influenced to use their parent’s credit cards for video games and online purchases. These are just some of the disturbances that make parents uneasy. 

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The internet has become a roaming ground for predators, scam artists, etc all causing even more worry and fear amongst families. These predators use various tactics and tricks to gain the trust of their victims, only to use that trust to groom the victims into an endless spiral. Currently, predators are using a tactic called Sextortion where predators use images of young kids and teens, making profiles, and pretending to be a kid themselves. After obtaining the trust of children they’ve befriended online, the predators then obtain nude photos, which they then use to blackmail the young children. There are many cases of this, the most recent in the news being about a Michigan teen named Jordon John Demay, who unfortunately fell victim to this scam and ended up taking his own life when the predator blackmailed him. 

Another reason parents don’t feel comfortable with their children having access to the internet is due to cyberbullying, which has harmed kids across the globe, case after case involving not only strangers online bullying kids, but their peers as well. One of the earliest cases of cyberbullying was back in 2007 when thirteen-year-old Megan Meier was bullied to an unfortunate end at the cyber hands of her neighbors. The neighbors were two teenagers who knew of Meghan and still chose to bully her on Myspace, pretending to be a teen boy who liked her, only to then become ruthless towards her. That is just one of the many cases. 

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Additionally, the internet can cause serious damage both mentally and physically to impressionable children. Hypersexualization and eating disorders, all play into the unhealthy ways of comparison with teens. It is a known fact that young teens and kids of all ages struggle to compare themselves to what they see on social media. Seeing the latest styles, and model bodies that encourage unhealthy practices to gain those bodies. Not to mention the hyper-sexualization on social media that encourages showing more skin to fit in.  These are all factors that can not only discourage a kid but also leave behind lasting effects that they take to adulthood. Many of them have mentioned how they would never allow their children to experience the internet so young. 

These issues and more have caused many parents around the globe to wonder, is the internet a safe place for their children? Many parents are taking the initiative to try and combat these incidents before they happen. For example, schools are stepping into action by creating web blockers, which prevent children from accessing non-academic related websites on campus grounds. Even Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new bill back in September of 2022,  which requires fundamental changes in the design of platforms that protect children’s online privacy while also mitigating harms such as bullying, exploitation, and inappropriate content. 

 

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About the Contributor
Tierra Feagin
Tierra Feagin, Social Media Team
Hello! :D My name is Tierra Feagin and I am majoring in communications. This is my first year with The Talon and my second year as a student at MSJC. I also enjoy making crafts, music, drawing, and video games.
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    Mila GularteNov 9, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    This was an excellent article and so informative! Thank you for protecting our kids & teens

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