Social media has been flooding our news feed in this generation. From the time we wake up to the time we sleep, our lives are completely on the phone or laptop. Everyone seems to be having the “Head Down Syndrome”, where one would constantly look down on their phone. Almost everywhere you go, you’re bound to meet this types of people no matter if you’re just waiting for the train, while stuck in traffic, during eating time, most scroll on their social media while doing your nature’s call and some genius would be on their phone when someone is talking to them. That’s another story altogether, let’s not dwell on that, shall we?
However, what we’re dwelling into comes into a whole different world of how times have fast forward to a technological system. Now, you can see kids from as early as 3 years old and above needs a gadget like a tablet or a phone to watch their daily cartoon shows to entertain them. Heck, even primary school kids already own a smartphone of their own. This reminds me of a story my friend – a private home teacher- who told me that she needs to cancel her extra classes with her eight-year-old student. So I ask “did you manage to inform the student’s mum”, she replied, “I just texted my student straight”. My jaw just dropped to the ground. Can you imagine an eight-year-old owning a smartphone? It’s not even the cheap Nokia phone that most of us will get, rather it’s a high-quality brand. I’m sitting while looking at them thinking “I would be satisfied if I have my colour pencils with me, all looking sharp and new”. Those were the privileges that I was blessed with. I remember the times where I would keep a spare change of coins just in case I need to call my parents up through the payphone at school if I ever need to stay back for co-curricular activities.
If I were to ask my parents to buy for me a phone, all hell breaks loose in the household. They only believe that achieving for something that we want takes a good amount of hard work, to stay humbled throughout the entire thing and to appreciate the value of money that once our forefathers have done. Parents back then were mostly strict towards their child. Ensuring we know that money doesn’t fall from trees, we had to work and earn harder than what we want. I’m not saying parents now are very lenient, but most of them are, looking at how easy their children can get a phone just by scoring good marks in their exams or the luxury they’ll be getting from being an “obedient” child. Whatever happened to the proverb of “spare the rod and spoil the child?” This means that when a parents refuse to discipline their child now, that child in the future will grow accustomed to getting things his way. It’s not exactly a good step for the development of a child to think in that way in the long run.
Mom of two and a retired teacher, Anna Thong believes that leniency is not the exact word to go about it.
“I won’t say the parents are lenient now but I will say they take the easy way out. Parent’s nowadays will give in easily to their children when they request something. Parents should put their feet down, be firm and not give in to all the demands coming from the children.”
She hopes that parents explain to them the bad points of handling a phone at a young age and continuously monitor their child’s posting on social media.
A recent study by the Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitude Report shows that by the age of 12 to 15 years old, 83% of them have their own smartphone, 55% of them have their own tablet and claims that their mobile phone is the device they would miss the most. A report by the media watchdog Ofcom found that more than half of children aged as young as three and four use a tablet while one in seven has their own device. This begs the question, what effect could possibly be so detrimental to the kids?
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can hurt too.
Children are like a sponge, they soak in information fast and learn from the info to apply it to their daily life. Children are at an age where they start to develop their personalities. When it comes to the social media, our children imitate what they see their role models do. For example, sweetheart TV character, Hannah Montana acted by Miley Cyrus had a squeaky clean image until the 2013’s VMA performance that features a different and promiscuous Miley that shocked everyone. Let’s not forget the Anaconda music video by Rap Queen, Nicki Minaj. What’s good, Miley?
Besides that, you could even say that their feelings for the whole day could solely base on the things they see or comment on their profile page. Let’s take for example a bigger issue that is still lingering among our youths, cyberbullying. This issue should not be taken lightly by anyone and is a serious threat to society. Over the past few years, The Harford County Examiner reported around half of the teens have been victims of cyberbullying and only fewer than 1 in 5 cyberbullying incidents are reported to law enforcement.
What brings this issue into a darker one is the fact that youths are so influenced by the hateful comments or pictures of them that it is more likely they would experience low self-esteem within themselves and even to the point of considering suicide. Suicide is the 2nd ranking cause of death for individuals 15-24 years of age. Peer victimization in children and adolescents is associated with higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (JAMA Pediatrics, 2014).
Take for example The Tyler Clementi Case. Tyler began sharing at the age of18 to everyone that he was gay. Clementi’s roommate at that time used a webcam in September 2010 to stream footage of Clementi kissing another boy. That caused a massive cyberbullying spree for Tyler that he had become a topic of ridicule on starting his freshman year in university. On September 22, 2010, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
John and Kelly Halligan lost their thirteen-year-old son, Ryan, to suicide on October 7, 2003. Ryan’s death was pressured by ridiculed and humiliation he gotten by his peers at school and online. His story was so profound that Ryan’s parents have appeared on several national TV programs including the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss on this fragile matter that needs to be educated and addressed to everyone that cyberbullying is not cool.
And I agree! Bullying in any shape or forms is never cool! To all, you keyboard warriors who bullies the living heck out of anyone on social media, be sure to know that God is watching your every move and may He bless you with the gift to be compassionate towards people around you.
In Malaysia, cyberbullying is slowly making its reach towards our young with kids. Last year of May, a 20-year old student jumped from the 17th floor in Penang and was said to be struggling with his studies and also a cyberbully victim. Another girl, contemplated suicide because she was fat-shamed online. We managed to sit down and talk to Befrienders a couple month back to the Vice Chairman of Befrienders KL, Victor Tan on an article about suicide. He claims that children as young as 10 years call up to share their feelings and emotions. Victor added, “that whoever thinks they are suffering alone, should understand that people do care and are concerned, all that’s left to do is to reach out for help.”
If you know someone who is in pain, do not hesitate to call Befrienders KL at their hotline number 03-7956 8144.
However, social media is not all bad if it’s used to good use. You have an array of opportunities for community engagement, the growth of blogs, videos, gaming sites and it can foster one’s individual identity and unique social skills. Things are now made much easier when we want to scout the newest eatery places or even getting people’s second opinion through social media with the likes and voting poll that most sites have. Long gone are the days where letters are being exchanged or
Here we ask a few millennials on their opinions on social media and cyberbullying.
Describe the experience your friend had once about cyberbullying?
Someone hacked through his account and the hacker was using his profile to communicate with the victim’s friends and on top of that, sends nude pictures of him. The hacker threated my friend to pay a sum of RM 10k then only he’ll stop. My friend lost trust in most of his friends and he eventually his account was back to normal after filing a police report and report to the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission).
What do you think will happen in the future if children now are abusing the power of social media?
I believe we can see the effects pushing through now itself. Kids are supposed to get out and get excited about going to the park every evening, climb a tree, cycle around our house area, play hopscotch with the neighbour, you know, the typical children antics do. However, in the future, everything will be completely be digitized and children (including people) won’t even want to move from the chair.
Kaykay Chung got her first smartphone when she was in her 20’s and set up a Facebook profile for herself when she was just 16 years old. Kaykay feels that internet back then used as a means to communicate, and reaching out to others as it is compared to today. She believes the use of social media now is so much more of an internalised purposes like Facebook likes, self-esteem.
“We post pictures whether if it’s good or not to make ourselves feel good”.
For Hazel Song, she believes social media contributes an access to saving their time, and anyone can easily know about your whereabouts. However, this reduces the communication flow between one another because the need to ask is already on social media.
Moreover, for Joshua Nathaniel, he is able to live without the usage of social media as doesn’t normally take interest in it but however, when it comes to his smartphone, he definitely needs it every day because that is his bridge to connecting with his friends and family.
When it comes to the digital world, there are certainly ups and downs to using and applying it. It’s best to stay away from online predators and keyboard warriors. Sometimes it’s good to just unwind and put the phone behind us and just seize the moment! There’s more to life than just scrolling through our profile on social media.