Children should not be allowed to have social mediaaccounts until they are 15 years of age. Social media bombards you with unrealistic body images and portrayals of “ideal” lifestyles. A few years ago, people were only concerned about what the tabloids and television stations were telling kids. As social media rapidly continues to become more popular, especially among young people, the effects it has on kids can be harsh, and it’s definitely becoming worse as time goes on.

The reason I choose age 15 is because — typically — it is the age you start high school and begin to gain a bit more freedom. I think that parents and teachers need to encourage kids to be themselves, listen to their intuitions and love themselves throughout their academic careers, but especially in elementary school and middle school. By the time kids reach high school, they tend to become more independent thinkers and make their own judgments based off of what they have seen and experienced. Before that it seems kids are much more likely to believe what people tell them to believe.

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to constantly monitor the content that kids consume. By preventing kids from using social media until they are 15, they will be less exposed to the expectations and fake realities that social media portrays. Kids will have already made some concrete judgments on the world and how it really is versus how social media makes it out to be. For example, Instagram is known for being polluted with people in their early twenties traveling the world and living the easiest, most luxurious lives with no hard work. Another example of this is on the Instagram “comedy” genre page. The content that they put out is extremely distasteful and upsetting: like jokes about rape, racism, abusing women, taking advantage of them and objectifying them. Most of the comments that follow are by people under the age of 18 who agree with and even encourage the humor.

Social media also gives kids a false notion that being successful only comes with being beautiful. Almost every person you find with over 20,000 Instagram followers edits their pictures to glorify their life and image. This kind of content can be toxic to a child’s mind, and their future relationships with themselves and others might be compromised if they feel less worthy by comparison. By the age of 15, teens will hopefully have a better sense of the realities of life, while being able to manage their freedom and their own judgments.

Society already portrays these ideals in almost every form of media, including magazines and commercials, but not to the extent that social media does. Instagram is one of the easiest, most accessible forms of media to children, and it can potentially brainwash them into embracing skewed concepts of reality.

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