Technology is currently one of the most advantageous yet detrimental tools in the society. Although its negative effects have been felt with news of people committing suicide, being kidnapped and killed, it is surprising that almost nothing has been done to seriously shield them from technology. Today, teenagers account for the most significant percentage of technology users. This is primarily seen in online platforms and social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, among other popular sites. According to Gruenewald (2022), 89% of teenagers aged 13-17 have reported using at least one of these sites, while a roughly 70% have reported using more than one. Moreover, almost every teenager today has a smartphone and unrestricted access to most social media sites. Although it has several advantages, the use of technology in the lives of teenagers is also detrimental. Therefore, based on these detrimental effects of technology, this essay will argue that there exists a need to put a legal age limit for the use of social media.
The legal age that should be allowed for teenagers to use social media is 18. The proposed age is to prevent them from the damage caused by social media and introduce it to them when they are older and can handle whatever comes with it. Social platforms have vast effects that have been proven to affect teenagers, including bullying and depression. According to a survey conducted during Covid, one-third of the teenagers interviewed reported having depression and were using social media constantly (Monroe, 2022). The survey highlighted that the severity of the symptoms associated with depression increased when teenagers used social media. This survey shows that social media might escalate their condition in events where teens have depression. Therefore, it proves that depression among teens is positively associated with social media.
Putting a legal age limit to the use of social media will ensure that teenagers are prepared for these platforms. Through this, it will be possible to readjust the relationship of people and technology to become better and without the higher percentage of negativity it carries today. Moreover, teenagers could be taught, guided and tested on how to use social media in ways that will not harm them. In this case, a person will gain more responsibility and be more mindful of how they use these sites. Although most social media platforms today allow teens above the age of thirteen to use them, this age limit is quite low and most teenagers have found a way around this (Canales, 2022). The world is changing, and each time social media is transforming. Contrary to social media in the 90s, social media is more active today, and several contents and ads are circulating. Therefore, raising the age to 18 should be the standard to prepare teens to use social media.
In addition to this, teenagers below the age of 18 are undeveloped in regards to their minds and sense of responsibility. Most teenagers do not have a powerful sense of responsibility. Instead, they can easily act on impulse without rationally thinking of the consequences of their actions. It is no wonder that social media sites today have several bullies and teens who mistreat others regardless of the effects of their actions on the one being bullied. Moreover, understanding the effects of a post on social media is utterly beyond the cognitive grasp of a young mind, and any mistake could potentially affect their future (Joshi et al., 2019). In the event that they are targeted by predators, teenagers do not have the sufficient ability to deal with this situation at a young age. If anything, this puts them in jeopardy both physically and mentally.
In conclusion, to achieve a future with lower cases of technology-related crimes, it is necessary that individuals and tech-companies alike join efforts to ensure a legal age restriction on teenage-use of social media. Tech-organizations need to stop focusing on maximizing profits with no regard to the consequences it has on users. Instead, these companies ought to be at the forefront of this fight by implement strategies to ensure no teenager can bypass this legal age requirement. A younger teenager might find it difficult to handle cyberbullying, but those above 18 might know what to do. Therefore, enforcing a rule that allows social media platforms to be used by teenagers above 18 years old prepares them for the negative impacts linked with social media.
Joshi, S. V., Stubbe, D., Li, S. T. T., & Hilty, D. M. (2019). The use of technology by youth: Implications for psychiatric educators. Academic Psychiatry, 43(1), 101-109.
Canales, K. (2022). Silicon Valley says kids over the age of 13 can handle the big, Bad World of social media. experts say that’s the result of a ‘problematic’ 1990s internet law. Business Insider.
Monroe, J. (2022). The effect of social media on teenagers. Newport Academy.
Gruenewald, N. (2022). The importance of social media age restrictions. Net Nanny.