Growing Up Online: How The Internet Harms Young Girls
Written By: Ryker Rose
Social media is something I grew up with and wish I hadn’t. The internet went from AOL floppy discs to a ubiquitous force dictating our everyday lives. My experience online is one that is far too common for young girls on the internet. I was sexualized as a minor. I was bullied and ridiculed by people who didn’t know me. I was also exposed to a variety adult entertainment sites a child. Other than porn, I was also exposed to harmful websites such as the famous “Pro Anna” website that teaches anyone who reaches the site, how to be anorexic and get away with it. I wish I hadn’t had access to the internet as young as I did even though I found support and expression through the internet. The more harmful side effects of the internet majorly outweigh the benefits in my opinion.
The more harmful side effects of the internet majorly outweigh the benefits in my opinion.
When I was only 13 years old, I had a public Facebook account. I would pose in sexy poses as I had seen in the magazines. I developed rather early because I got my period at only 11 years old so it was difficult for strangers to know how old I was. This exposed me to online predators. My pictures consisted of a tiny “young adult” wearing push up bras and skin tight leggings. My internet access was not monitored as a child and that continued into my teenage years. My parents expected me to take care of my siblings so I felt as though I was never allowed to act like a child. That is important because I felt as though the sexy poses and inappropriate content I was putting out there was age appropriate.
I’m 22 years old now, and I wonder to myself what a supportive developmental life would look like. I know my childhood wasn’t normal, but the internet made it worse. I’ve always seemed much older due to my facial structure and body. I had an online stalker that found my parents’ real address. I think he found it via public record because you use your real name on Facebook typically. He continued to show up to my house for months and would always send me harmful messages in relation to sex. Thankfully I never replied to him.
I posted photos nude photos of myself when I was underage. This is something still triggers me to this day. If it could happen to me, it could happen to your daughter. Child pornography is horrifying, disgusting, and revolting. I wish I had a time machine and could stop myself younger self from taking those photos, but I can’t.
While I was savvy enough to evade external threats, I was still vulnerable to the constant images of unrealistic beauty standards that fill our timelines. Eating disorders are statistically the most deadly mental disorders. I found the website “Pro Anna” at only 11 years old. The idea of that alone, makes me so sad and so angry. This website has been deleted off the internet as it was exposed that an older white man was the character “Anna.” This harmful site caused me to learn how to push my food around the plate and use gaslighting so that others in my life wouldn’t know I had a problem.
I would urge others to park farther away from the mall so I could walk farther. I would constantly fidget my legs in order to burn more calories. At my lowest weight, I was a 17 year old child who weighed only 103 pounds. If I never had access to this website so young, my brain would never have this response under extreme stress to starve myself and damage my body. I’m an adult who is “recovered” but I still relapse to this day.
Now let’s talk about porn. I was exposed to online porn around the age of 10. The idea of a little girl watching porn is not funny, and it’s not helpful to a child’s development. I watched porn so young that I believe it caused me to be sexually active before I was ready. I posted photos nude photos of myself when I was underage. This is something still triggers me to this day. If it could happen to me, it could happen to your daughter. Child pornography is horrifying, disgusting, and revolting. I wish I had a time machine and could stop myself younger self from taking those photos, but I can’t.
The internet and social media provide a safe space and friendship for many people. I believe that kids should be closely monitored while using social media. I had extremely neglectful parents that didn’t notice what I was doing at all. There should be some sort of law or protection for the kids who ended up like me. From my experiences, I grew up even faster than I had to due to my other circumstances. I wish I grew up before the cellphone, iPad, and computers.