When we rush to do something for the children, there’s a long history of implementing changes that do not help children. Running out to block teens from using social media might also cut them off from the only source of support they have, especially kids who do not have support at home from their parents. Creating age verification requirements threatens our privacy and creates unlimited risks for identity theft. Rushing to do something because a few studies show a possible mental health risk is dangerous.
Law enforcement officials don’t just want to be able to scan for CSAM. That’s the excuse to get the public to buy into mass surveillance. “It’s for the kids” is disingenuous. It’s not for the kids to them, it’s to open the door to the police, and anyone with some skill, to watch ALL of our communication and use it in any way they see fit.
Yes, that will include that cop who’s a little too friendly with the teens in the neighborhood, the one abusing his wife, or the one stalking an ex. It’ll also include officials with political leanings spying on opponents, dictators with unfettered access to all communication coming and going to their citizens, and hackers getting access to blackmail material.
All of it. Out there for anyone with the keys to see, store, and use as they see fit.
To believe we can solve the teen mental health crisis by forcing kids off social media and doing nothing about all these other things is foolish.
We have said often that the best prevention we can offer is to simply keep people connected to those around them. When you’re talking about teens, staying connected to them as parents is vital. When it’s a friend, another family member, an adult, a kid, etc. the best thing we can offer is staying connected with them.
That connection, that knowledge that they are not, in fact, going through this pain alone can make all the difference.
Why not offer it?
We know where the story goes from there, but if you have kids who spend any time online, you may want to give it a read and dig deeper into some of the linked resources they’ve created for parents. There’s some good information about what to look for and how to teach kids to be more aware.
Don’t just assume this won’t happen to your kid.
I agree with Janet. There is content available on the internet, and social media, that is dangerous for kids. There is also content available that is beneficial to kids as well. Protecting them from harm without killing off all of the positive things technology brings into their lives every day is not a simple task.
Anyone telling you it is simple, or claiming that we “have to do something”, without explaining all of the trade-offs is not to be taken seriously.