‘Preteens Should Not be Allowed to Have Their Own Social Media Accounts’ by Paulina Golarz

‘’Preteens Should Not be Allowed to Have Their Own Social Media Accounts’’ is the winner of the Persuasive Non-Fiction for ELLs category in the 2nd annual Student Writing Competition, hosted by the Conestoga School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Social media is an integral part of human life. A large part of the population has a social media account and uses it actively. A person who does not exist in social media can sometimes even be excluded from certain parts of social life. Preteens, who are children aged 10-13 years, using social media platforms is nothing shocking these days. Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram are some of the most popular platforms because they allow them to connect with others and share photos or videos. Although many people believe that it is safe to connect through social media, preteens should not be allowed to have their own social media accounts because they can access websites with inappropriate content, they can get addicted and someone with bad intentions can contact them.

First, preteens that have a social media account may visit sites with inappropriate content. Some people may argue that there is a special parental lock for internet; parents can control which websites their children use and which they do not. However, it is possible that preteens can override that control, for example, by peeking at the password. Then they are able to access sites or advertisements that are not allowed for them. They would do this because of curiosity, peer influence or the need to impress friends. By going to such sites, even if not on purpose, they may see things that will shock or frighten them and may stay in their memory for a long time, such as content with violence or pornography. For example, on Instagram, the popular use of hashtags can lead then to someone sharing inappropriate videos. In addition, access to some websites or applications requires payment. Without knowing it or without realizing the consequences, preteens can access apps, advertisements, or even games that incur costs. For instance, the popular Facebook platform allows to play a variety of games, or improve profile avatar, which generates costs. Before parents realize what happened, the costs charged can reach large amount of money. There are many unsuitable and dangerous websites for young teens to access with a social media account.

Secondly, when preteens have their own social media accounts, they can become addicted. Although some people say that parents can set a children’s screen time, they are not at home all the time, and children may be using social media in secret. Preteens who spend a lot of time on the computer and correspond with virtual friends can get cut off from the real world. Socialising with peers in face to face situations can become irrelevant and tweens may not want to go to school or participate in extra activities. Furthermore, using social media can lead preteens to being less physically active; moreover, it can also affect their mental health. For instance, by over-focusing attention and emotions in the virtual world, they may have trouble concentrating, have fits of aggression or even become depressed. Being consumed by videos on TikTok or idealized photos on Instagram can result in low self-esteem, or keeping up with trends on Instagram can be exhausting. Thus, having own social media account by preteenagers can make them addicted and lead to negative effects on their health.

In addition, preteens who are active in social media, such as those with their own accounts, can be contacted by someone with bad intentions. Some people would argue that parents usually talk to their children and warn them about dangers of the internet. Nevertheless, children do not understand all intentions as adults do, and because of their naivety, they are easy to convince and deceive. Through anonymity on the internet, people can keep in touch with preteens for a long time, corresponding with them and hiding their real identity. For example, preteens are at risk of being harassed and sexually abused by adults or bullied and made uncomfortable by peers. Moreover, tweens may come across people on the Internet who try to trick them by getting private data. Some people may use methods whereby an unaware child gives them passwords or pins to private accounts. This can lead to theft or loss of data, which has serious consequences. A preteen who has a social media account can attract people with bad intentions and be easily deceived.

In conclusion, preteens should not be allowed to have their own social media accounts because of the possibility of entering inappropriate websites, becoming addicted, and being contacted by people with bad intentions. Social media can be beneficial if used carefully. If parents prevent preteens from participating too quickly in the virtual world, it can bring more advantages for them. In the future, they may create media accounts and join the virtual world, but they will be more prepared for it.