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How does social media affect teenagers?

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2022. 11:04 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: There is an ongoing online discussion and perhaps even promotion of trends and revealing photos by famous actresses, influencers, and singers. In Belize, many teens on various social media platforms post revealing photos and videos on their pages. Quick scrolling through social media platforms would reveal that adults are also contributing by participating in these trends. But are we monitoring the content being posted on social media by students? 

While these types of pictures and videos may receive tons of reactions, it begs the question~ what is the purpose of making them public? Are teens seeking popularity or having fun and what are some of the implications of the content being posted? 

Making yourself accessible via social media platforms can make it easier for stalkers and other criminals to find those that are vulnerable. 

While Tiktok allows you to share your dancing techniques, it is appropriate, is your attire appropriate? 

BBN reached out to educators to share their thoughts and concerns about students’ access to these platforms and the minimal or lack of parental guidance and monitoring. 

Principal of Saint Andrew’s Anglican in San Ignacio, Sharee Gutierrez says that the access to platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok has opened a floodgate to an almost unmeasurable amount of information and entertainment.  

“While educational content can be found across these mediums, most children use social media for entertainment. Sexualized, violent, and even dangerous videos can be viewed. Many children are pressured to copy these trends which are often called challenges. The need to compete and fit in often overshadows the basic need of being safe,” Gutierrez shared.  

In addition, she noted that many parents are oblivious to the way social media functions so children are unsupervised and vulnerable to the negative effects of social media. She encourages parents to be vigilant and monitor their children’s online activities. 

Meanwhile, the Principal of Saint Vincent Pallotti Primary in Unitedville Village, Luis Oliva says that the era of technology must be embraced despite the many challenges it poses. 

“Most schools are incorporating technology because of its efficiency in assisting students to learn faster and as a source of motivation. There are many advantages to having access to technology and to different social media platforms like Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which are some of the most common ones used within our school community,” Oliva said.  

Oliva also shared the concern that children can be in danger because they are exposed online.  

“As an administrator of a primary school, I have seen a lot of negative effects through the use of these social media platforms. People usually take advantage of children or sometimes they start communicating with the wrong people. The posting of pictures is another issue parents and educators need to contend with. Children get exposed due to being unsupervised and lack of limitations in regards to the use of these platforms,” Oliva said.  

He encourages parents and educators to monitor and remain informed of the trends to be able to speak to and protect their children.  

In addition, Oliva says that schools will need to implement rules that would address cyber-attacks and exposure of nudity and inappropriate content from students. 

Principal of the Santa Elena Primary School, Andrea Martinez told BBN that it is critical to implement, monitor, and have reporting systems to recognize at-risk behavior and inappropriate content since students are among the most exposed and vulnerable to the effects of technology. 

“I believe that various nations around the world are considering or have already implemented measures to help protect children and keep them safe from hazardous online content by monitoring internet usage to protect students in schools, Martinez said.  

Martinez encourages parents and educators to work together. She also stated that with the support of the Ministry of Education, school administrations will need to update regulations and anticipate threats to their student’s well-being and safety.  

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