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Arming Middle School Children With a Different Weapon

Dana Corriel, MD, comments on the recent Tik Tok incident whereby middle schoolers attacked the reputation of a large group of their teachers.

July 6, 2024

I wasn’t in the least bit surprised the other day, when the New York Times came out with a story about the first of its kind Tik Tok attack.

It did not even come as a surprise that the perpetrators involved in this case were in grade school. Middle schoolers, to be exact. 

Social media is, and always has been, a largely unregulated format for communicating.

It is an open playground into which we have released children of all ages, from across the world, and into which anyone can enter.

 

Here, in this wonderland, exist very few rules. No one on social media “teaches” you how to behave, or how to do things the right way.

Can we really blame our children when they use it for fun? 

Everyone they know and look up to, from movie stars to sports figures to everyone in between – exists in the online space today.

In fact, studies show that a large percentage of children no longer dream of the same jobs the used to, like doctors or lawyers. An article in the Daily Mail summed up findings showing the girls want to become fashion designers, influencers, or video game designers, while the boys opted for software engineers, influencers, or data scientists.

 

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This shift in children’s dreams, coupled with our dependence on technology, ensures a future in which more and more of our highly brilliant minds lose themselves into even more of these isolating devices. 

It feels like only yesterday that the film Ready, Player, One felt so distant; introducing science fiction concepts that frightened us all.

 

"No one on social media “teaches” you how to behave, or how to do things the right way."
Dana Corriel, MD
doctorsonsocialmedia.com

 

So how did we get here, to times where children – middle schoolers! – are capable of so swiftly bringing down the careers of their once-respected teachers in one fell posting-swoop?

Here’s some of what I’m thinking.

In the old days, children were raised by their parents. They learned right or wrong from immediate family members – real life role models.

Nowadays, they’re learning less from their immediate real-life surroundings and more from posts that go viral. More often than not, these are the extreme posts of the bunch – complaining, impersonating, expressing violence, and more.

 

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I worry about our future generations. I posted about this on my own social media (ironic, eh?).

Nathan Eckel responded to me, on Instagram, with the following – that they imagine there would be some sort of civil or possibly criminal litigation despite the ages due to the reputation damage and privacy issues.

My question is: who do we bring up charges against? Children?

I definitely agree with discipline, as that’s how children learn.

But if they don’t yet know the difference between right and wrong – especially as it hasn’t been clearly defined to them where it comes to social media, how can we enforce any punishment that makes a difference for them?

These kids haven’t murdered anyone. And I doubt if they even understand the concept of “reputation”.

The big issue for me, here, is that we’re essentially placing weapons in the hands of children.

Yes, you read that right. Weapons.

It may not be yesterday’s weapon (and mainly because yesterday, it did not exist), but it’s certainly today’s.

 

 

The scariest part of our reality is that the amazingly innovative mobile device isn’t just a weapon. It’s also a highly addictive substance; one which humans of all ages are quickly growing dependent on.

According to an article on a website Statista, “The average time spent daily on a phone, not counting talking on the phone, has increased in recent years, reaching a total of 4 hours and 30 minutes as of April 2022. This figure is expected to reach around 4 hours and 39 minutes by 2024.”

 

"The average time spent daily on a phone has reached a total of 4 hours and 30 minutes as of April 2022"
Dana Corriel, MD
doctorsonsocialmedia.com

 

Someone mentioned that I should “delete tik tok as it is detrimental to you and your child’s mental, emotional, and social well being.”

While I agree with this notion, and could certainly delete the app, how would that help? I am an n equals 1.I always disliked statistics, but I certainly understand the significance of this equation.

What we need to do is to figure out, as a nation, what actions need to be put into effect to protect society as a whole.

Our citizens are targets of warfare that looks very different than it used to, in the older days.

We must think on a larger scale, and we must move faster than we have been.

Regulations aren’t part of everyday democracy vernacular, but in some situations, it may need to be.

Dana Corriel, MD

Dana Corriel, MD

“I haven’t LEFT medicine, I’m simply taking time to tackle its issues from a different angle. I’m stepping out of the traditional medicine box.”

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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