Kids on Internet: Danger

Drugs for sale. Drug deaths. Bullying. Suicide.  Sexual predators. Much is reported on the toxic effect Internet has on children. Some studies estimate 60% of teenagers are on Instagram or TikTok for an average of five hours a day. Unmonitored... Wow! Nationwide mental illness and unhealthy obsession grows among  our youth, yet little is done. This must change.

News reported on recent U.S. Senate hearings lambasting Internet moguls.  Tough talk. But what legislation is actually passed? Passing effective laws to control this crisis (yes, let's call it a crisis) is difficult, as it has a lot to do with what children do on their own time and the troubling question of why parents - millions of them - are not supervising what their kids see online. There is much that can be done by local law enforcement and the schools themselves  We offer a few straightforward ideas.

1.  Ban Cells During School Hours. In every public school in the country, ban cell phone use by children of all ages while in school. Take phones upon arriving, put them in post office-like boxes, and return them at the end of the school day. Students have no business looking a phone during school hours. Their job is to listen and learn without distraction. There is little reason for parents to be in touch with their kids during school hours excepting emergencies.

2. Teaching To Not Be Obsessed. Banning cell phones during school hours sends a clear message: do not be obsessed. There are more important things in life than your cell… learning, interacting with others, reading books.

3. Teachers. Teachers deserve to not have to deal with the hassle of distracted students. Teachers should talk about online addiction. Every teacher in every public school in the country should be given the ability to convey this to children: do not let cell phones control your life. If such emphasis is placed K-12, the next generation of kids may grow up less obsessed with cell phones.

4. Prosecute Online Criminals. Local governments can legislate laws that will more easily allow arresting and prosecuting anyone who promotes pornography, drug solicitation, sex offenses, and criminal activity online directed at children. Law enforcement should be given the ability to get the names and addresses of everyone broadcasting sick and criminal plots online that children are watching. Disgusting people who use our children to make money, sell drugs, or seek sex should be prosecuted. Give law enforcement needed tools for this.

5. Bullying & Threats. Allow law enforcement to arrest and fully prosecute any minor who bullyies and threatens online. Suicides are common because of this cruelty. Bullies must not get away with it. Millions of kids are traumatized and we must allow law enforcement and schools to apprehend anyone suspected of such abuses. If minors do something horrible, they should not be shielded from the law because they are young.

6. Parental Consent. Ban use of social media by children under the age of 17 without written consent by their parents. Unfortunately this may require federal legislation - don't hold your breath.

7. Require ID Online. Everyone who has an account on Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, etc., will not be allowed to post a site without providing legal name, address, phone number, and Social Security number or appropriate ID proving this is not a fake person or bot. If you are online, show who you are! The idea is to make sure anyone who does something sick or criminal online can be found and prosecuted. Hiding being a “site” like a coward while tormenting children (or anyone) must not be permitted. The solution is government regulation of Internet companies requiring everyone to identify themselves so they can be found if they break the law. That would certainly help to contain criminal behavior online.

8. Public Service Messages. We cannot control what children do once school ends, but we certainly can reach out to parents to explain the need to control kids’ obsession with internet the rest of the day. Social media services, TV and other media should broadcast public service announcements directed at parents to explain the danger of children being obsessed with their phones.

Does this cover everything? Hardly. If you, and especially parents, have proposals to add to this list of changes, we welcome hearing your ideas. Contact us.