Desensitization of Children: Where It Stems From and What It Leads To


Madeline Martinez, Staff Writer

Desensitization has been a long-lasting issue. Kids all around the world have been affected by the outside world, having it all in the palm of their hands. Since the invention of the Internet by Vinton Cerf and Bab Kahn in 1973, and the first search engine being created by Alan Emtage in 1989, nearly 50 years later, it seems as though anything can be accessed. 

When we browse the internet, play games, and shop online, it feels as though we can access anything. We can do anything. We can stay up all night watching YouTube and Netflix. We can turn on VPN’s which, sometimes, allow us to watch movies outside of our country. Though doing that is legal, it can have your account terminated. If you ever used a VPN on Netflix, you would get about 15 minutes into whatever you’re watching, and then a screen will pop up saying “Pardon the interruption. Looks like you’re connecting through a VPN, proxy, or ‘unblocker’ service. To start watching Netflix, please turn off any of these services and try again,” with the error code M7037-1111. This text is occupied by a TV in the back and a tag in the bottom right corner: Mindhunter. Using a VPN with Netflix goes against their Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).  

Creating your own website is also super easy. There are websites dedicated to helping you make your own website, WIX probably being the most popular. But this access can lead to a lot of open ideas. In 2010, a man named Hunter Moore created a public website. This website was for people seeking revenge to publicly exploit people without their consent. This website lasted for 16 months. In Netflix’s documentary, “The Most Hated Man on the Internet”, it is said that Moore was using stolen and hacked photos as well as one’s people sent in themselves. Moore was eventually caught and appeared in federal court in 2014. He was said to have pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and aiding and abetting in the unauthorized access of a computer. He was released three years later in May of 2017.  

Even when there is no access to the internet, children are still incredibly impressionable. The National Library of Medicine notes that approximately 43% of children have witnessed violence, and 40% have been direct victims. These kids are experiencing this at home, at school, and in their own community. Kids carry what they see. If their parents or guardians are fighting or showing emotions and reactions children don’t understand. They will almost always believe that what they see is okay. Innocence is an important part of a kid’s childhood. To be robbed of that boundary, that wide-eyed naïve look, stripped of an aspect of life, is selfish.  

Now, accessing things such as the dark web are not easy to come about. It is not easily found on surface websites such as Google or Bing. One would need to go looking for it to get into that situation. Though, a hyperlink is not hard to tap. Hyperlinks can be disguised as anything.   

Look at this product I found for better hair growth! Hair Revival Serum  

See? You knew that link was not leading to an actual product, but curiosity still got the best of you. Twitter has become home to many of these non-discreet links, TikTok being the main source of enticing reviews leading to looking for those links. Surely, you’ve come across videos such as “Guys, please don’t look ______ ______ up. I’m warning you!” This, simply put, is reverse psychology. They tell you not to do something, and your curiosity spikes. These links can measure from gore to dark humor. The internet has a bizarre spectrum of endless rabbit holes, which can become increasingly more dangerous the further you go down.  

There is a YouTube channel with what looks like seemingly innocent content, that has these puppets who sing, and some are just there as the music plays in the background. The video has been around for 11 years. There is an entire series of these puppets singing. In the original video, the first Don’t Hug me, towards the end, the video shows different organs of the body such as the heart and liver. The thumbnail nor the description have any indication of this video being unpleasant.   

In an article written by Common Sense Media, it is stated  

“What’s troubling is that kids on a typical media diet are exposed to a lot – estimates are in the tens of thousands — of graphically violent images and ideas through movies, games, and even advertisements.”  

Things such as video games, reading material, and social interactions are probably the most wholesome ways to expose a kid to something dangerous. Social media, streaming sites, and blogs, such as the stuff you would find on Tumblr, are when boundaries are needed to maintain a happy and wholesome kid.   

Thousands of kids everywhere are affected by the media. From pressing buttons to easily view things, to some things not being covered by restrictions at all. Your soul can be thirteen, but you could be twenty-seven on YouTube. Who has to know, right? When children begin to view this stuff too much, it releases a hormone called dopamine. Dopamine has been labeled as the “feel-good” hormone because it does just that. Dopamine is part of your reward system. In a Cleveland Clinic article, dopamine contributes to the following: Movement, memory, pleasurable reward and motivation, behavior, cognition, and more.  

In all, if kids are exposed to vile things at such an early age, they grow up feeling that viewing these certain things is okay when really, it’s damaging their view of the world. Damaging the way kids think can also lead to other things such as anger issues and feelings of neglect. No matter the restrictions that are so simple to de-active, like hopping a fence, and the endless world at our fingertips, it’s up to the people, the generations surrounding those kids. From day one, children lie their trust in the palms of their parents, so when faced with challenges, they are blessed with the skills to overcome them. Not exposing kids to electronic devices, keeping adult situations private, and spending time with your kids to not neglect them, you would be doing enough to make a kid happy until they are met with reality. Desensitization also damages their perspectives on certain things when really, that’s just not how things work. It’s the job of parents, as explained before, as well as the school staff, and society to protect kids from the realities of the world until it is appropriate to let them explore. You can’t hold their hand forever. In no way is this article’s intention to dictate the way anyone raises their children, but what to be aware of and how you can prevent and protect them.