By Akin Olaniyan
I will ignore the debate about who is to blame for the mess at Chrisland School. Rather I will focus on what interests me because there’s a knowledge gap there.
If like me you can take a step back and dispassionately consider the issues around the mess; you’ll notice the toxic influence of social media and the damage this is doing to our young ones.
Here’s the problem with the attention economy; young girls are desperate to adopt the tested formats that have made Kim Kardashian a ‘goddess’. That format has been proved to be effective by Jane Mena and Tacha just to mention a few. As for young boys; it’s either they want to be the next big sports star or the next big-time musician. Either way, young folks just want to become a celebrity overnight.
IF THEY ABSOLUTELY MUST USE A SMARTPHONE, PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THEY DO. I ADVISE YOU TO CHECK AND DELETE THE LIKEE APPLICATION FOR A START.
They forget that the road to the point where social capital becomes profitable is fraught with minefields. Or that the self-consuming process of the lifestyle of a micro-celebrity is psychologically punishing. This is why I pity parents who are so media illiterate that they will allow their underage children uncontrolled access to the Internet.
The young girl at the centre of the mess in Chrisland had access to a smartphone; data and a ring light for her homemade videos posted to Likee.
I know, times have changed. These days, sometimes teachers require young folks to do take-home assignments that require them to surf the Internet. My generation didn’t have these pressures and the unnecessary exposure was good for us.
These times call for different approaches to parenting. I reckon the parents of the young girl should be looking at themselves to see where they have failed.
Here’s some free advice for them and other parents with children under 18.
If your children do not ABSOLUTELY need a smartphone, then withdraw it. If you need to be able to reach them in case your family is always on the move, give them a feature phone.
If they have ABSOLUTELY must use a smartphone, pay attention to what they do. I advise you to check and delete the LIKEE application for a start. Initially released in July 2017 as, LIKE video, the recently rebranded Singapore-based app is challenging TikTok for dominance in the fast-growing video space. LIKEE offers an array of attractions for young users: filters, stickers, and cutting-edge special effects. It also allows kids to live stream to their fan base.
IF YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO REACH THEM IN CASE YOUR FAMILY IS ALWAYS ON THE MOVE, GIVE THEM A FEATURE PHONE.
Problem is, that LIKEE is too PERMISSIVE and was described as “a paedophile’s paradise,” by Family Zone cyber expert and prominent child psychologist, Michael Carr-Greg. He goes on to add, “Predators are not stupid, they know exactly where the kids are and how to find them.” Among other problems with LIKEE, Family Zone notes that:
- Accounts can’t be made private
- Users can filter a search by gender
- There is no age verification process
- Mature and risky content abounds
- In-app parental controls are ineffectual
In monitoring you children, also constantly check what they do on Instagram and Tik Tok.
Whatever you do, do not encourage your children to start building a career as micro-celebrities until they are fully grown and ready for the psychologically draining process. In doubt, ask Jane Mena and Tacha how they are coping.
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