Technological advances at this day and age have brought about a lot of changes in the way children and teens communicate socially by the use of social communication platforms such as Facebook, Blogging, Internet TV, Skype, Twitters, YouTube and MySpace and so on. Younger children are also indulged in social networking heavily. This is according to a study conducted where websites such as ClubPenguin, Poptropica, Habbo, Neopets and Stardoll have managed to register millions of users who mostly are younger children (“Your Children and the Internet: Social Networking Sites”).
According to the study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (2010, January), more than eight in ten, that is 84%, of young people now have fast Internet access at home, this has increased from a record of 74% in 2004 and 47% in 1999. As a result, they spend more time online when they are at the comfort of their homes. Computer usage has also sky rocketed where many homes now own a computer, so as to get access to the Internet. Seven in ten 8- to 18-year-olds go online; this can be translated to about 70%. Where home use if around 57% whereas going online at school, in the library, community centre is about 20%.
These networking tools have brought about a lot of time focus by the children and they lose focus of their studies and education which is quite important too. At this point internet being easily affordable and readily available and the occurrence of smart phones, tablets and other internet enabled gadgets; children are prone to be subjected to all they would want to access at just a click away.
i. Vulnerability of children’s level of development According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2001), "Children are influenced by media–they learn by observing, imitating, and making behaviors their own". The continuous access to the internet by children has caused them to be vulnerable to a lot of things. For instance, children development has been hindered to a capacity that is quite alarming. Children are influenced by what they see on the television, magazines and the likes to a point they can be able to depict exactly what they see others doing. This also makes them vulnerable in the fact that social media such as the internet, texting and networking can lead to reduced concentration and academic performance. This has definitely led to reduced grades and progressive dependence on social media has shown that the same children who spend more time on TV than physical activities tend to be slower at grasping facts. In addition to that, exposure to unrated adult television has been noticed to lead to increased exposure to violence or sexual content and this in turn lead to aggressive behavior and thoughts respectively and other factors such as fear and less helping in house chores (“Anti-Social Networking: How do texting and social media affect our children? A panel by CSC clinicians at the Nightingale Bamford School”). Renee Hobbs, an advocate for media literacy education commented on that issue stating, “Just because our students can use media and technology doesn't mean they are effective at critically analyzing and evaluating the messages they receive. Students need a set of skills to ask important questions about what they watch, see, listen to and read. Often called media literacy, these skills include the ability to critically