It has long been the mantra of parenting gurus for adults to monitor social media posts for the children in their lives and have access to their phones. It was for their own protection, to keep them …
It has long been the mantra of parenting gurus for adults to monitor social media posts for the children in their lives and have access to their phones. It was for their own protection, to keep them safe from child predators and the like. As the student got older and developed perception, the basic advice was the oversight could be gradually decreased as the child approached adulthood.
But recent events have opened that advice to re-examination.
One event was the overdose death of the 16-year-old son of a prominent California doctor who gives medical advice on national radio and televison. Her son, a good student with no apparent history of drug use or abuse, is alleged to have purchased the substance that claimed his life via Snapchat. The shattered parents are not able to access his cellphone and help authorities track down the suspected vendors until Apple receives a death certificate and agrees to unlock the device.
Closer to home, two area youths are alleged to have posted unsavory video clips on the Tik Tok app, using racial slurs and similar inappropriate language.
Aside from any punishment the original posters may be subject to from their parents or schools, they are apparently unaware that anything on the web never really goes away. Those posts can be dug up years, even decades later, to be used against them in situations that never occurred to them as teenagers or young adults.
The clips or posts can be cancel fodder for college admissions, job applications, even work against the owners should they want to serve in the military or run for political office.
There are numerous instances where posts on social media — or even liking a post — have come back to bite the author. People have been forced to resign from jobs, from colleges, from campaigns.
Where in all this is freedom of speech? It is a guarantee, after all, and no one is suggesting otherwise.
What we are pointing out is that the freedom to swing one’s fist ends at someone else’s nose. Damaging words may not be constitutionally protected. We as a nation are still hashing that out. Self governance will not work without self control.
But until a young person is fully aware of what a post such as those we are illustrating here can do to them down the road, let alone today, they need oversight and protection from themselves, protection that should be provided by someone hopefully older and wiser. That protection should not be, and is not, provided by Big Tech. It must be provided by the adults in their lives, by their parents or guardians, who have their best interests at heart.