I find myself saying “kids these days…” like a stereotypical grumpy man from the movies. Unlike these character tropes, I am not shaming the children. Rather I am shaming society. Kids today are almost forced to grow up way faster than they did when I was a kid, which was not too long ago. I blame technology and social media, again the inner Nick Miller from “New Girl” coming out.
I’ve felt this way for a while, but I saw something recently on Facebook that made my jaw drop. There’s a trend on going around where you post a picture of yourself from when you were 12 and you now. This one girl posted one, and the picture of her at 12 looked like she was 17. She’s only like 15 now, but she still looks older than myself and many of my college-aged peers. Nothing wrong with that, but the kind of attention people give it is not okay. It takes away the innocence a 12-year- old should have.
When I was 12, you could tell I was 12. I acted 12, had the makeup skills of 12-year- old, and had no idea how to use social media properly. Personally, I think all of that was what made my childhood more fun and less stressful. I played outside, was rarely on social media, and there was more in-person communication and interaction. I also did not feel like I needed to look or act a certain way because the girls on TikTok or Instagram do.
The most advanced technology I had as a kid was a laptop to play Webkinz and watch cute animal YouTube videos, and in middle school I got an iPod for games and music for my hour-long school bus ride. Due to the lack of availability of social media, I did not feel influenced, or even sexualized by it.
There is not a week that goes by where I don’t see a minor posting videos of them doing dances that emphasize the movement of hips or butt or chest. I immediately report those videos for the child’s own safety.
The kid is most likely just having fun and following a trend. But there are always comments that are sexualizing it. It has almost become acceptable for literal children to want to look and act “sexy.” I don’t blame the kids at all. They’re just doing what they think is normal and what everyone their age is doing. I blame society as a whole for making that the norm, making it normal for children to receive comments that sexualize their bodies or actions. Obviously, the people leaving those comments are to blame, but these children should not be accustomed to being hit on.
The world is forever changing, and societal norms will adapt to that, but I don’t think the adaption of the lack of innocence in children should be one that exists. Sadly, it does, and the best we can do as those who are adults and see that this is wrong is to educate kids today to make them aware of the dangers they may face on social media and try our best to protect them.
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