The traditional “getting to know you phase” of relationship building that we do in real life has diminished, due to people’s activity online. Often young children and teens, post personal information about themselves on Social Media, sometimes for everyone to see, in order to socialize and to make new friends online.
Children will always seek the approval of their peers and in the online world this is no different. For children and teens especially, it is about who has the most Friends or Followers, who got the most “Likes” on the last picture they posted and so on. The internet offers a certain amount of anonymity when sitting behind a screen in the privacy of your own home. This can lead to somewhat of a disconnect for children and teens. It can make it easier to post a sexual or embarrassing images of themselves or a peer, brag about what they did the previous weekend, leave nasty or inappropriate comments on their own, or another’s profile and the list goes on. All of this to catch the attention of others, appear popular and to seek approval.
The over posting of information in the digital world can lead to some serious real world problems. Children Geo-tagging, adding the location to images that they post and updating their status every few hours about every little thing they do and where they are could lead to such problems as coming home to a burgled house after being away on holiday.
Creating a fake online identity on a social networking platform is nothing new but is becoming more prevalent. It is done for various reasons, out of boredom, to stalk, harass, exploit, embarrass, bully, and manipulate others to mention but a few. Again the anonymity offered by the internet and social media coupled with a child’s trusting nature make it very easy to set up and run a fake profile for whatever reason you may want.
There have been numerous high-profile court cases involving sexual exploitation of children and murders where the victims were targeted by the perpetrators of the crimes by the use of fake online identities.
The use of a Fake profile can lead to Cyberbullying, anonymity and the social disconnect offered by the internet make it easy to bully another person with the sense that there will be no repercussions. No longer is the biggest strongest child in the playground the bully, anybody can be a bully on the internet.
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