Young children have been opened to the unpredictable world of social networking, but with this new technology comes internet safety lessons that need to be taught.<br />Photo Credit: Jordan Sutton

Young children have been opened to the unpredictable world of social networking, but with this new technology comes internet safety lessons that need to be taught.
Photo Credit: Jordan Sutton

I received my first cell phone in the 6th grade. It was a small flip phone with a low megapixel camera that I could use only on weekends and after school. It kept me from using it during school hours, which in return made me focus on what is most important, my education. I had a distinct line drawn between my social and educational life which benefitted me more during my high school career.

Maybe this is a little young compared to others, but what about children in today’s day and age? My little sisters were both recently gifted a brand new iPhone 5; they are 11 and 10 years old.

Personally, I think 10 years old is a little young to own a smartphone, especially the newest on on the market. I understand the appeal, but I never even needed a phone at that age. Sure, I loved it, but I didn’t really NEED one until I was in 8th, maybe 9th grade, because that is when I may have used a phone to call my mom if I was in danger or to talk to my friends about the weekend. I was more mature and knew the responsibility it would take to have a phone.

I think what makes this issue even worse is the fact that parents of these young kids are allowing them to make accounts on social networking sites and some parents are oblivious to the fact that it is even happening. My little sisters both located me on Instagram and started following me. To be honest, I am unsure if I like them seeing everything I post, not that it is anything bad, but I have my own life as a teenager that they do not fully understand yet. Additionally, at that age, they are unaware of what they might stumble across while scrolling through the never ending feed of pictures.

Someone has already made a fake account with my youngest sister’s picture and name on it. She “follows” a multitude of people she does not even know and they follow her back. She is letting complete strangers look at her personal photos and now a random person has used this to make a fake account. My parents were unsure of what to do about the fake account, so for the meantime, they simply made her profile private so she can still enjoy her Instagram account and warned some of my sister’s friends about the dangers of social networking.

Even though times have changed since I was that age, I think there needs to be some limits established by parents and guardians of the children using these apps and websites. Parents need to take the time to be informed about Internet safety and possible identify fraud before allowing these young children to use high-tech phones. I know my phone came in handy for keeping me safe and allowing my parents to contact me when I was out of town or at a friend’s house, but only that.

I never had Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram in my early years; I had swing sets, ATVs, trees to climb, and dolls to play with. Parents, and even teenage siblings, should be aware of what the young people around them are doing on social networking sites. Its important to protect their pure minds and personal privacy. Some things just should not be posted where anyone can see them.