Illustration by Chelsea Lam

Posting without thinking: a risk to safety

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The internet is notorious for leading vulnerable users to contact with strangers with the intent of harm. As social media continues to grow more popular among the younger demographic, the risk increases. Teenagers need to be more careful with what they post in case of contact with perverts, while also risking a bad reputation.

On the internet, anyone can imitate whoever they want to be. This means that one can lie and say that they are 16 years old but in reality be an adult. Being young and naive, teenagers can easily be manipulated by anonymous users and share further information about themselves through private messages on social media. There are many dangerous people, such as pedophiles, who take interest in younger kids and explicit photos. In many cases, this leads to kidnapping, stalking, and other potential dangers. Although this issue does not occur often, rare past instances make it clear that it is not worth taking this risk.

Millions of pictures are posted online every day, and each of them can be anonymously saved or reposted at any time. As the saying goes, “the internet is forever,” and any deleted picture can resurface to haunt oneself in the future. This can lead to rumors and a bad reputation for not only oneself when applying for jobs or doing anything in public, but also for one’s family. This can result in suffering the loss of jobs in fear of a bad reputation spreading to whatever company or business they are working for. Others’ perceptions of a person can be warped solely due to a single post that shadows them for years. 

Others may argue that anyone should be able to freely and confidently express themselves however they want. But, there is a certain extent of sharing yourself to an audience of people you know to strangers worldwide. As minors, teenagers should not be expressing themselves in a way that would be inappropriate. Teenagers, being very young and not experienced with consequences, are not able to recognize the fine line between expression and inappropriateness. An example could be someone who posts a picture of themselves in an outfit that is appropriate but represents the person, while the opposite would be a picture in an outfit that inappropriately reveals their body. Expression is important for teenage development, but it should always be kept appropriate. 

Teenagers must be aware of the dangers of uploading certain photos online. With increasing social media use among younger generations, these issues have become normalized and increase the sexualization of minors. There is no inference that teenagers should not use social media or should be under more parental advisory, but rather teenagers need to be more responsible with their actions. Teenagers can educate themselves and share information on the potential effects of social media posts to prevent themselves and others from repeating past mistakes. A lot of times, it is forgetful that teenagers are still considered as minors who can make many costly mistakes.

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