Born This Way

2 Mar

Status updates, photo tagging and FarmVille aren’t just for adults or even teenagers anymore.

Researchers say a growing number of children are flouting age requirements on sites such as Facebook and MySpace, or using social-networking sites designed just for them. Facebook and MySpace require users to be at least 13. But they have no practical way to verify ages, and many young users pretend to be older when signing up.

Every day a new life is being born into this ultra tech savvy world of ours; even before these new generation babies learn the way of the world, they are exposed to all the unimaginable dangers of the internet and social networking. This is as though they were born for it. Children nowadays make children from just fifteen years ago seem like children from the middle ages. Whatever happened to conventional five stones, little kuti kuti games and snakes & ladders that brought friends together?

My little cousin, Alicia, for example, has had a Facebook account for over two years now. She had one created when she was in Kindergarten One. A year into when she first started, she was glued to the computer in her room, away from the rest of the family and playing with all sorts of virtual games that Facebook has to offer. Now, she is able to sit in the living room with us (who prefer bonding over the telly) only because her games and stint on Facebook is now mobile on the iPhone. Kids these days, really…

That aside, the network of friends that she has made on Facebook can be multiplied by at least twenty of the handful she has in school. Credit goes to the interactive virtual games that she has been religiously participating in like Pet Society, Restaurant City, FarmVille and all that you can think of. These interactive social networking sites encourage participants to make new friends online so that they can trade special items and/or visit each other to increase points and up their skills/levels. For a naive six year old who is hooked onto the game, it’s ‘Why not? Just a click of my mouse, it’s not the Boogeyman!’. But how many of them do you really know? And are friends really that easy to come by?

Now, because of the growing influence that social networking has on unsuspecting children, the government has introduced compulsory internet education into their curriculum to create awareness on the dangers of the internet (now this is definitely less awkward than sex education workshops). Parents too, are constantly urged to keep close watch on their children, but with other responsibilities, they cannot be there for them 24/7. So when and what will ever be enough to shield them from the posing dangers? Should social networking sites have by default, private accounts unless users choose to go public? Should children be banned from using social networking sites till ten? Should parents be given security codes like those for credit authorizations to be used when their children sign up for social networking accounts?

How do you make it safe?

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One Response to “Born This Way”

  1. spoonfish March 30, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Kids these days are getting smarter and smarter by the day. As the world evolves, the people in it evolves too, including kids. We shouldn’t be surprised that kids are catching up on the world’s trends. It may be a good or bad thing. Good is, they’re smarter and up to date with the world. Bad is, they may be too smart for their own good?

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