Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families

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The harsh realities of Filipino children today include the risk of being exposed to cyberpornography and even cyberbullying.  This leads to low self-esteem that leads to dependency, which when left unaddressed make them vulnerable to sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, illicit drug use, HIV infection and a gamut of other problems.

The advances of technology these days allow commerce to be done online with far-reaching audiences and social markets.

Unfortunately, children in the third world countries such as the Philippines, are being exploited through this same technology.  Webcam sex tourism is a newly coined term describing how pedophiles and sex offenders virtually rape children in their own homes.

Sweetie is a virtual 10 year old Filipina girl created by the Terre des Hommes Netherlands to trap pedophiles around the globe.

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Research shows that there are 750,000 predators online at any one time.  Groups enjoin Filipinos to sign petitions to government to deliver a strong statement against Filipino children being victimized through webcam sex tourism.

A number of researches have been done to study the effect of internet use, social networking and social media on children.  Over 60% of 13-17 year olds have at least one profile on a social networking site, many spending more than 2 hours per day on social networking sites.  Majority of teenagers have cell phones.  Some use them for social media and instant messaging, and half of the population use them for texting.

Parents are the primary protectors of their children.  They should become aware of the nature of social media sites, and provide regulation and guidance to their children when navigating the internet.

“There are frequent online expressions of offline behaviours such as bullying, clique forming, and sexual experimentation that have introduced problems such as cyberbullying, privacy issues and sexting.”

Cyberbullying is a potent form of strain that may be related to involvement in school problems and delinquent behaviour offline.”

Studies in the US have linked problematic internet usage with moderate to severe depression.

Looking on the bright side, although there is still a lot that the Philippine government needs to learn to be able to enforce laws and policies that protect children’s rights online, efforts have been taken to create special bodies to address these issues.  In the Central Visayas, the head of the Interagency Council against Trafficking (IACAT-7 VAWC) Senior Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, announced that we’ve counted 16 convictions for trafficking in persons for 2015.  Many of these cases involved victims who were minors.

Last December 1 and 2, 2015, the Ako Para Sa Bata (I am for the Child) International Conference at Marco Polo Hotel in Cebu showcased best practices in advocacies to protect the Filipino child.  Nearly 1,000 delegates from government agencies, academe and non-government organizations were in attendance.

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Mulat Pinoy shared that youth advocates are given an opportunity to become journalistic writers on burning issues, and that children are given a chance to air the views in a creative way that makes a positive impact on children’s involvement in social media.  They believe that young people can learn to use social media for good.  As youth reporters, they are able to communicate with people and friends from far-away places.  The internet becomes a good source of information.  Social media creates opportunities for growth and development and with proper coordination they can achieve a lot.  This also allows transmitting youth messages to a broader audience.

On this note, as #HealthXPH aims to make social media’s impact a positive one, join us as we discuss the impact of social media on our children, adolescents and families. #HealthXPH tweetchat 9PM MLA / 8AM EST on December 13, 2015 (Saturday):

T1. What is the impact of social media on children, adolescents and families?

T2. How should children behave online?

T3. How can children make a positive impact on social media?