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Children have always been at danger owing to their helplessness and inexperience, but some of the dangers faced by kids today are peculiar to the fast paced and virtual life we all live.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s citizens, but in an age where everyday life has become too fast-paced and where technology is taking over almost every aspect of our lives, the youth struggle with issues to keep up like never before. In the midst of smartphones, technology, social media and pursuit of perfection, dangers faced by kids are on a rise as well.
These are some of the dangers faced by kids today that originate from our ultra-modern lifestyle, that can seem to ignore the people of the most sensitive age group.
Obesity is among the most common dangers faced by kids today all over the world. Thanks to playstations, smartphones and just about everything that has a screen, our children are confining themselves to homes, and binging on cheap fast food. WHO found obesity to be the biggest health problem in youth today that not only leads to various diseases but also contributes to low self-esteem, bullying and even depression.
The internet with all its pros still has many ways to pose a threat to our children’s security. Cyberbullying or cyber-harassment refers to the use of electronic devices to threaten, bully or ridicule a person, with trolling turning up as the newest form of cyberbullying. While internet laws are being added to India’s legal system, there is lots to be done to deal with this danger faced by kids today.
It is not as if there was no competition out there in the world 20 years ago, but the bar has been raised to an unrealistic height these days. Children are expected to excel in everything – have a great personality, communication skills as well as top marks. In a world full of distractions, such unrealistic expectations do little benefit to our youth’s overall growth apart from stressing them out.
As children grow older, they are faced with challenging decisions, some involving serious moral questions, like whether to skip class, try a cigarette, get involved in a sexual act or lie to parents. When your friends pressure you into making a certain choice and into being a certain way, you know you are dealing with peer pressure.
Today the decisions are becoming even more difficult to make, having been fuelled by social media. Virtual peers are the newest version, with children and teens being influenced to do certain things by watching others on their Facebook or Instagram feeds – the most basic example of all being the competition to get more likes, more followers by posting compromising photos.
Among all the dangers faced by kids today, body image issues are among the most persistent ones, and is again fuelled by social media. Seeing others on the internet who look flawless, are popular and have huge ‘fan following’, other kids and teens develop a sense of self-doubt, low self-esteem and even eating disorders, hoping to achieve certain type of bodily features. When being healthy gets replaced by looking ‘perfect’, body image issues are bound to rise among teens.
Our kids are trying drugs and alcohol extremely early in today’s times, having been pressured by peers, social media, and just a general wish to “feel older”.
Again, this has certainly been a problem for some time now, but the internet now provides infinite ways to procure drugs. There have also been many cases of the use of the infamous date rape drug. Another reason behind this is that an increasing number of teens are turning up at clubs and bars, eventually falling victim to such drugs.
There are umpteen ways out there a stranger can get their hands on a teen’s photo and misuse it (neither Snapchat nor Instagram has figured how to deal with loopholes on their “notification when someone screenshots” system). Chat rooms are another means to access webcams or even gain a kid’s trust to get them to meet for real and then sexually abuse the person.
As the world moves faster than ever, conversations get shorter, average screen-time becomes longer and information becomes easier to procure and shorter to read, the way our children read and observe is depleting in an unprecedented way. Though the real cause is yet to be known, the cases of ADHD in today’s children are double than those a decade ago, which makes decreasing attention span a major danger faced by kids in the 21st century.
Talking to any stranger online is perhaps one of the most serious dangers faced by kids these days, because one can become anyone they want online. “The predators can smell a child who is vulnerable, it’s like food to a shark”, said Aftab, director of Cyberangels, an internet safety organization. A child may find a stranger amenable at first, who later could bully, mentally harass, or manipulate the child in dangerous ways – lessons learnt from the Blue Whale Challenge (the reason/origin behind ‘blue whale’ is still controversial and unclear).
20 years ago, no one had a virtual life to handle. In 2018, the age of innocence is being lost somewhere between the merging (and conflict) of the real and virtual life. Youth nowadays have to excel in real life while maintaining a virtual life on social media platforms, with no one to explain where the two go separate or come together, since it is so contemporary an issue.
Problems and issues in households have always existed, but what seems to be new is that more and more parents (read: spouses) are willing to go their separate ways when things do not seem to work in marriage. Although the move reflects a positive change, the children may still have a hard time dealing with the absence of one parent and end up developing personality issues.
As the world gets increasingly capitalist and consumerism is on an all-time high, our society and its individuals reflect to its children that life and happiness can be measured in monetary terms. Families get smaller, nuclear and more parents work longer than before, thus spending time is being replaced by spending money.
While providing our kids with everything they remotely want, the love is being shown in terms of things and not through affectionate gestures, effective communication or simple family time or activities done together. This danger faced by kids is being imposed by adults themselves, thus raising kids that calculate the spending more than they value feelings.
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