ART BY ESTELLE ZHOU
By ANNMARIE LI
Children grow up quite fast, but are they growing up even faster now?
Because of the rise of social media and societal pressures, children are starting to desire to be more mature. As a result, children may prematurely develop “teenage” or “adult” problems, which can hinder proper emotional growth in childhood.
Girls worry about and judge their appearances based on what society deems correct, while boys are conditioned to act “manly.” And yet, this dangerous mentality is only pushed further by a problem unique to this generation—the youth’s desire to be treated as an adult instead of a child. These behaviors are pushed by society upon children before they are emotionally mature enough to face the problems of adulthood.
With the spurring influx of technology in these past years, traditional mediums such as television shows and commercials are blended with social media platforms to create a harmful concoction for children. Ultimately, society is now placing unneeded pressure onto children to grow up faster due to constant peer pressure and the recent arrival of social media.
With technology and social media gaining traction with today’s youth, it raises the problem of children becoming influenced by what they see online. For example, popular internet trends and personalities often promote content intended for teenagers and adults. With an increasing accessibility and exposure to mainstream media, children may feel confined to the internet definition of what is “cool” and “not cool.” As social media takes this conformity culture to new extremes, children may be tempted to try these trends and follow their older role models. However, by doing so, they sacrifice their innocence before fully understanding the consequences of their actions. For example, makeup can be popular among young girls, and some could possibly be pressured by others to try it on. By integrating snippets of adulthood into their lives, children may prematurely develop associated “teenage” or “adult” problems, such as self-esteem and body image issues.
However, some may believe that the societal pressures of the past were as detrimental as today’s. While smoking cigarettes ailed the youth of the previous generation, today, kids are pushed to try recreational drugs. Yet, with the integration of social media in children’s lives, their easily susceptible minds may easily succumb to the pressure of society to mature, shortening the span of childhood. As a result, it can be argued that while both generations shared experiences of being pushed to grow up, the improvement of technology has created a much more noticeable impact on this generation.
In conclusion, factors like technology and peer pressure can encourage children to act more like adults, yet they are only in the early stages of life. To restore the lost time of childhood that comes with these factors, parents and other adults should teach the importance of children just being children. Today’s children are missing out on many things and memories that are only present in childhood, and maturing too early is something that is always forgotten.