It was early in seventh grade; I remember deciding whether I should make a Facebook page, because a few people had them in my grade.

This would be my first experience with social media. I asked my mom if it would be OK. At first she was unsure, but then she let me make one. I was so excited! I finally had a Facebook, and I could talk to my friends, post pictures, chat with people. It was exhilarating.

Looking back at it now, it’s crazy to think that I was anxiously contemplating whether to get a Facebook in seventh grade. Nowadays, by seventh grade, kids have a better grasp on how to work every button and how to interact with each other in every way.

All these websites, and the way kids interact online, is in no way appropriate. What they can be exposed to just through ads on the sides of social media is terrible, especially for the young minds of middle-schoolers. Whether its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Pinterest, they know it all, they have it all. With more kids every day getting interested in social media and joining every website they can because that’s the “cool thing” to do, it gets dangerous.

It is so much easier to call someone a name over a comment. Kids don’t know if that’s mean or if it will actually hurt someone; they just do it. The more kids are on social media, the more chances they have of getting bullied. As we have learned throughout school and from our parents, we should be careful online, not call each other names and treat others the way we want to be treated.

But kids are always looking to make people laugh and impress people, so if that means commenting mean things to others, most likely they’ll do it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell people you are getting bullied online; kids are exposed to bullying at such a young age and do not know what to do.

I have seen friends of mine, and even myself, gang up on someone and tease through comments on Facebook, and it has made them feel terrible. Back in “my day,” when everyone I knew was just starting to get Facebooks, we could post selfies, and photos with one another, and write words and draw hearts on them. Without a care in the world, we would upload pictures. We thought it looked cool.

In this day and age, girls in sixth- and seventh-graders are using apps, edits, gadgets and gizmos to make themselves look “hot.” They use filters to touch up their faces. What will it be like in 10 years?

Kids are so caught up in how they look that they will start to care less about what they’re doing — and not even in real life, on social media. Whether it’s touching up photos or worrying about how many likes and favorites she or he got, that’s all they care about.

I’m sure parents think kids my age are always on their devices and always worrying about their phones — but think of the younger ages. They didn’t have the same childhoods as we did; I grew up biking down to my neighbor’s house and ringing his doorbell to see if he was home and what he was doing. Looking at today’s kids, all they have to do is click a few buttons and they have plans. With today’s technology and all these young kids on their phones all the time, going outside on an adventure is becoming less and less of a trend.

Young kids are similar to kids my age, but on a more severe level. Yes, we are on our phones a lot, but they are experiencing this at an even younger age. Every second spent on that phone is time you could be biking in your neighborhood, playing neighborhood games or playing street hockey. Their people skills and face-to-face interaction with others diminish every day.

I feel as if kids who are in sixth and seventh grades should not already have every social media site; that should not be their main focus. You develop people skills by interacting with people, and if you are constantly on your phone, how can you gain social skills and be able to talk to people who you might not know over social media? It’s not always about what filter you should use or how many likes you are getting; it’s about enjoying your childhood and experiencing it with others face to face, not over a chat bar.

 

Mason Deterding is a junior at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School.