Social media giant Facebook has had a tough few weeks.
After it’s initial IPO (initial public offering) in May turned out to be a dud—what some are calling “Fadebook”, the second coming of Enron—and its controversial plan to allow preteens to sign up for membership, the company is poised to endure some serious scrutiny...let’s hope...and from parents more than anybody else.
But what should be even more troubling to parents of teens and preteens, is a recent report from Britain’s Daily Mail on Monday.
Freedom of Information requests have revealed that Facebook crimes occur every 40 minutes in England. That’s more than 12,000 crimes last year alone. (Reports of Facebook crimes in Canada and the U.S. are mysteriously difficult to find or non-existent.)
The Daily Mail reported that Facebook was referenced in investigations of murder, rape, child sex offences, assault, kidnap, death threats, witness intimidation, and fraud.
The report refers to one case in particular where 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall was groomed by serial rapist Peter Chapman, after which the 35-year-old man met up with her and eventually raped, bound, gagged, and left her to die in a ditch. Like so many other stories of online deception we hear of, Chapman hid behind a fake Facebook account to conceal his true identity.
And now Facebook plans to put preteens in danger by allowing them to join the social network through their parents’ accounts—a move they say will regulate children who are already circumventing membership restrictions.
But this isn’t good enough. Facebook has yet to demonstrate that teens or even adults are safe.
Then there is the distraction factor of the technology. How many parents or teachers have you heard complaining that they can’t get their kids to do much or see a complex task all the way through? I hear this all the time in Merritt.
The scientific evidence of how the Internet reshapes our brains to be more impulsive and how it kills our attention spans is well documented. Throw in the addictiveness of social media, and you have a neuro-chemical cocktail. There are even Internet addiction centres for children, yes children.
I think it is safe to say we are witnessing a silent epidemic unfolding before our very eyes, but because of our own emotional attachment (addiction) to the shiny veneer of technology and social media, we would rather pretend there is no problem.
If Eric Jackson of investment firm Ironfire Capital is correct that Facebook will collapse within eight years, it will be one less worry for parents who are observant enough to identify a technology-social media addiction with their child.
But Facebook isn’t the only kid on the block. Social media appears to be here to stay.
If parents aren’t looking out for their children, and social media giants aren’t, who will?
Are we abandoning our children simply because social media is trendy and we don’t want to come off as old-fashioned or Luddites?