the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Growing trend of lying teens invade media

Despite restrictions, minors gain unrestricted access to inappropriate content, prompting calls for stricter measures.
Editorial cartoon by Stephanie Cheng

A 10-year-old who is ready to join Generation Z’s typical social media journey downloads Instagram. The app asks them if they are 13 or older and the child claims to be born in the year 2000. Just like that, a door is opened to content and functions that are supposedly inaccessible to the underage.

Social media corporations often restrict access to their app to children under the age of 13. Yet, social networks allow minors to bypass the restrictions and pretend to be of age. According to federal communication regulator Ofcom, a study from 2022 shows that 47% of children aged 8 to 15 have a user profile of 16 years or older. 

When youth claim to be of age, they are often exposed to media that is improper for their maturity. Various platforms target specific content towards specific age groups. A 10-year-old who claims to be 21 years old on an app may be introduced to advertisements related to alcohol or gambling. This creates a detrimental influence on children by promoting behaviors deemed unsuitable during adolescence. Young children may also be affected by mainstream media, such as politics and forms of propaganda. Teenagers may be easily influenced by content such that the exposure hinders the growth of children, as their childhood is often referred to as a stage where they are still developing their own unique identities. 

Furthermore, privacy is a significant topic in social media, as information about individuals has become transparent to all users. The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act requires web platforms to set a child’s settings to high privacy in order to protect them from any malicious acts such as cyberbullying or blackmail. This may be a successful method in prioritizing child safety, but such limited accessibility can be effortlessly bypassed simply by lying. 

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Although digital media employs multiple safety measures for younger users to protect their well-being and safety, such precautions fail to work. Rules regarding age on social platforms should be stricter, with multiple steps of verification to protect children. 

Apps should continuously update and improve parental consent systems. It should be mandated by corporations to ask for guardian permission. Once a child enters their parent’s information, a consent form should be sent directly to the adult. This would be effective by allowing parents to be aware that their child has such an app and to take necessary steps to monitor their activity.

Another way to enforce age requirements is by implementing identity verification mechanisms. With this procedure, it would be mandatory for users to upload a photo of a government-issued ID to verify their real age. To solve the matter of confidentiality, all companies should partner with a trusted third-party service that specializes in identity authentication. While this may be a controversial method that brings up the question of privacy, it would be a successful approach to ensuring age compliance.

By introducing new methods to refine the age requirement system that is often easily exploited, a safe online environment is created for children to have a positive user experience. If society continues to neglect this pressing issue, technology will bring great harm to the future of our world. 

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About the Contributor
Scott Chen
Scott Chen, News editor and Advertising
Hi my name is Scott Chen, I'm in the 11th grade, and I'm the News editor and Advertising for The Hoofprint. Outside of The Hoofprint, I am the captain for the boy's varsity tennis team. I can't wait for what is to come this year!
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