Social Media and Loss of Childhood Innocence

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Photo Credit: yenieksen via Compfight cc

I just watched the Sext Up video.  It was informative, disturbing and depressing.  It reminded me that exposure to sexual content is much easier now than when I was a child. In elementary school, there used to be ‘playground talk’ where people shared all their sexual knowledge(limited as it usually was), and some boys even shared their access to Penthouse and Playboy magazines.  But that was the extent of it (as far as I know).

It is so unfortunate that children are feeling pressure to be ‘sexy’ and feel the need to play that role.  As a grade three teacher, I see young girls wearing clothes that I wish they wouldn’t. Rebecca Sweat notes this in her article What Happened to Childhood? where she says that “…designers have simply shrunk teenage styles to fit younger girls.”

I think that the ‘sexualization’ of children has been happening for a long time (for example JonBenet Ramsey). But the internet makes it so easy now for young people to access whatever they might be looking for. Music videos and clothing are designed to interest youth and make them want to have ‘sex appeal’. The ease of access to pornography on the internet has young men and young women looking for and expecting sex to look a certain way.

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Photo Credit: Javcon117* via Compfight cc

I know it ages me, but as much as I am coming to appreciate the internet and the amazing things it can offer, I yearn for the simplicity of the good old days (from my vantage point). It seems that children now have an immense amount of pressure to look and act in certain ways. Not to say that this has changed immensely, but internet access has definitively not helped. Imagine that a Lingerie company in France is making garments for girls as young as four.  Does this not encourage child pornography?  Does this not encourage young girls to be thinking and dressing inappropriately for their age?

This debate is charged with emotion for many people. Especially those of us with our own children. How can we protect them from the inappropriate things they have access to on the internet?  I know that we can educate children to make wise decisions, but there are so many temptations and at some point, peers become more influential than parents.

Right now, I know a seventeen year old who thinks that because of freedom of expression, and showing her comfort with her own sexuality, that it is okay to be sending naked pictures to people. What this class has showed about our digital imprint being permanent,  makes me sad because I care about this girl, and for the many young people who seem to be doing this kind of thing indiscriminately.
Does this make me narrow minded? – maybe some would say so – but I wish they had the wisdom to make better choices.

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6 thoughts on “Social Media and Loss of Childhood Innocence

  1. I don’t think this makes you narrow minded. I think that a lot of us have the same questions and feel the same way. We know how powerful technology can be in good ways, but it’s the bad ways that we are worried about. Having a son and daughter who are just 3 and 1, I constantly worry about what the future will hold for them. I worry about their use of technology and what they will be doing with it. I can only hope that I can take what I have learned from my classes with Alec & Katia to teach balance and healthy use of technology. I don’t want my daughter to grow up feeling pressured to be sexy. I know how hard it can be for women to feel like they are ‘pleasing’ society. Why should we have to look or act a certain way to please everyone else? We need to work on preventing these ideas from continuing. We need to focus on teaching our young boys that women are not just an ‘item’. When boys value a girl for more than her looks, things will start to change. I believe we have come a long way but still have such a long way to go! Thanks for sharing Angela.

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  2. Hey! Great point of view Angela. Sometimes I wish I could bottle up my daughters and protect them from the bad things in the world

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  3. Narrow minded, I’d definitely say not. I think the words you’re looking for are protective and cautious. It’s hard not to fear what young children are exposed to online. I agree with Danielle in feeling the urge to shelter children from it. I don’t yet have children of my own but I empathize with all of the parents within this class that have to view these issues as not only a teacher but parent as well.

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  4. It’s so scary to think of our own children navigating what we see all the time. We want so badly to protect them from every bad thing we’ve seen. Things are so different from when I grew up, it’s like having to relearn what childhood is all over again!
    You’ve brought up some really good points about the sexualization of childhood. Who is it really for? Is that lingerie really for the four-year-old? Does she really understand the connotations of what she “wants” to wear? Is it her mother creating a mini-me? So many layers to unpack!

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  5. Well said Angela! I agree with many of the valuable points you have addressed in this post. Many of our students (especially young girls) feel pressure to look a certain way due to images displayed before them on social media. Often, it feels as though children are losing the quality of their childhood when they are spending their time worrying about whether they “fit” in with society instead of just being happy with themselves and enjoying life’s experiences. Thanks for sharing Angela!

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  6. Thank you for sharing Angela! I love your post. I would definitely agree with you that our students are feeling pressures to be ‘sexy’. This is unfortunate however if we take a look around society this is what they are being exposed to. As a physical education teacher I always find it interesting that at the beginning of the year when we discuss changing out for physical education I always have to have the discussion as to what is appropriate attire and what is not. Not only are other students uncomfortable I also feel awkward, I see these children as my own and only want what is best for them and dressing ‘sexy’ isn’t going to get them where they need to be!

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