What Is the Right Age to Allow Kids on Social Media?
I'll admit it, I'm tough on my kids when it comes to technology. I was the last parent to let Xbox into my house. My daughter was the last kid in her group of friends to get an iPhone. Now, here I am, once again fighting the tidal wave of modern-day society, trying to delay her entry into the world of social media.
My argument against getting on social media has pretty much been that it's not going anywhere. Once you get involved in social media, there's really no turning back. It will be a part of your life for the rest of your life, and I probably don't have to tell you that social media isn't always chock full of positivity.
Research has shown that teenagers who use more social media have a tendency to be more depressed. The thought is that people of all ages tend to compare their lives to the unrealistic lives that are being portrayed by the people they follow on social media – not something that I'm in a huge hurry to introduce to my kids. My instinct as a dad is to shelter them from this garbage for as long as possible.
Truthfully, if Snapchat was a thing when I was in high school, I would have revolted if my parents wouldn't let me use it. I'm not proud of that, but it's the truth. I would have been the biggest pain in the butt about it, I would have hounded them constantly until I wore them down and they let me get an account.
Up until now, my kids have only mildly protested our prohibition of social media. Their protests have been nothing more than passing comments about how kids in their grade make plans on Snapchat, not by texting. I believe this because I know that kids never want to adopt trends that their parents have. This is why you'll find very, very few kids with Facebook accounts or event texting each other. It's a parental thing to do, not something high school kids wants to be associated with.
My wife is the one that's been wearing me down about things like Snapchat. While I want to protect my kids from the major drawbacks of the social media world, I also don't want them missing out on real-life social events. Those real-life plans, apparently, are being made on Snapchat. Kids will make plans to go to a high school football game or to meet after school on Snapchat. If you're not on it, you may be unintentionally left out.
I don't think there's any doubt that being a parent right now is infinitely more challenging than it was for generations past. There are so many new and unchartered things that get presented to us as parents.
Something tells me it's not going to get any easier.