A recent report stated that social media sites were being urged to not include “Like” buttons on their interface for the reasons of keeping children safe online. The fear is that the Like function on sites like Facebook encourage children to stay online longer.
But the question is if everyone should have to obey the same rules on social media to keep everyone safe when the target is just one certain group. Should everyone now follow different rules just to prevent children from being online too long? Is it right to impose the same safe social media rules on everyone?
Alex believes a good rule of thumb is that “everyone should have the same ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the world, meaning they are free from harassment, aggression, or fear being inflicted upon them by the public.”
He feels social media should follow a similar rule. Just like police separating street fights, moderators should intervene to enforce basic civility online as well. While you can’t punch strangers without expecting consequences, you shouldn’t be able to “wage a campaign of web-mediated psychological harassment without expecting consequences.”
However, only a very small percentage of online behavior meets those parameters. Yet, if we allow racist, sexist, or violent rhetoric to go unchecked, “we are implicitly labeling it as acceptable in our discourse.” Not every bully needs to be silenced, but if someone is being singled out for death threats, we should be intervening.
Sayak takes the question away from the thought of bullying and into the need for validation. He notes that Generation Z and millennial kids have “a far greater need for ‘likes’ and validation from peers compared to older generations.” He compares taking away that need to taking money from someone’s bank account.
He believes there may have been a good deal of bullying cases and teen depression issues that prompted the British authorities to “target the humble Like button.” He sees the rule as draconian and that it resembles a “nanny state operation,” and is hoping they aren’t serious about such as “preposterous idea.”
I agree with both here. Alex is certainly right that when behavior turns the corner of being bullying, there needs to be identified rules that everyone abides by to keep everyone safe, whether they are a child or an adult. Yet, as Sayak said, we’ve created a generation who needs that validation of the Like button, and maybe that needs to be toned done without leaving others to feel like they’re in a “nanny state.”
When it comes to online safety, yes, let’s all abide by the same rules. But when it comes to time online, I don’t think my time should change to keep children online less. At that point it needs to be up to the parents to exert some type of control and rules on their children without affecting everyone else.
Do you have an opinion on this? Should your online activity change to benefit children? And should you abide by the same cyber anti-bullying rules as everyone else? Is it right to impose the same safe social media rules on everyone? Chime in below to join our conversation.