This post is one that I have been turning over and over again in my mind. Quite possibly, this is one of the areas in “parenting” where I have the strongest viewpoint.
Social media…and children.
Maybe you will read this post and walk away saying, “that’s not how I plan to raise my kids,” and you know what? That’s completely ok. I’m not here to assign blame or tell you how to best raise your children. However, I do think that kids and social media is something that absolutely, 100% MUST be addressed.
My “first draft” of this post was originally going to deal with why I don’t post much on social media in regards to my older kids. But, my favorite blog author covered the topic so well in a recent blog post, that I am just going to direct you over to her blog. I agree with everything that she says in her post about how parents use social media to share things about their children’s lives. Click here to head on over to her site, and when you’re done reading, come back here for the rest of my post.
You back? Okay! Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the rest of this post.
Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing upward trend on social media-particularly Facebook and Twitter. And that trend is, quite simply put, people who think that just because they have a social media account, they can post anything and everything up on their accounts and then get “offended” when their vitriolic posts cause other social media users to become upset.
When I first started out as a newbie to the world of social media back in 2005 (goodness, I feel old!), social media had a MUCH different feel to it. A lot of the negativity that I see on it now didn’t exist. The ads that are sprinkled throughout my feeds weren’t there, and the general consensus on the usage of social media seemed to be that it was a place for friends and family to virtually “hang out.” It was a way for people to connect who lived across the world, and back in 2005, I really enjoyed being able to stay connected to people who I had met through college and in my various travels.
But, probably about 2009, things started to change. I know for me, I became desensitized to social media. I stopped filtering what I said. Facebook became a place to moan and groan and complain about every little thing that happened in my life. I know I wasn’t the only one to make that shift, but it seemed to me, as I look back, that Facebook went from a place where people connected to a way that people could passively aggressively attack other users without naming names. It became a place where every grievance was aired, and around 2012, when all my friends were getting married and having babies, it became a place where I became very easily discontented with my life.
Today, Facebook has ads galore, news stories about every horrible thing happening in the world, people who seem to think that they can rage against “the man” and have the right to become offended when their posts cause offense, not to mention all the spam accounts that are made to try to hack your information.
Yes, I realize I’m painting a bleak picture with a very broad brush, and yes, there are ways that you can unfollow people, hide ads, etc…, but these days, it seems like I am doing a whole lot more of unfollowing and hiding ads than connecting with friends.
As time marches on, I really wonder where social media is going. I am only one person. I can control what I post. I can censor what I say and choose to post things that are designed to uplift or that have notes of humor in them to try to bring a smile to people’s faces, but I have absolutely no control over what others post. That’s fine. But, it does cause me to be very concerned when it comes to my children and the eventuality of them wanting their own social media accounts.
And here is where some of you might really disagree with me.
My kids will never have unsupervised social media accounts as long as they are in my house.
Unless something drastic happens, that’s just the decision that my husband and I have made. If our kids get to the point where they want Facebook, Instagram, etc.. when they’re older, they will be allowed to have accounts only if parents have the password. And to top it off, they will have certain times when they are and aren’t allowed on these sites.
Why? Well, here are my top three reasons why my children will not have unsupervised/unlimited access to social media.
- I want my kids to make friends with real people and spend “real time” with them.
It’s way too easy to “friend” people on social media. I want my children to have real face-to-face interactions with their friends. I want them to have their friends over for birthdays instead of just getting a zillion “Happy Birthday” wishes on Facebook by relative strangers. I want them, in other words, to have a real childhood/young adult experience.
2. It’s much easier to be nasty, hateful, etc…to someone when you’re hiding behind a screen. I don’t want my children to be victims of cyber-bullying, nor do I want them to be the instigators of cyber-bullying.
Do I think that my children will be cyber-bullies? No. But, the reality of living in a sin-cursed world is that everyone carries with them the potential to live and act in an ungodly way. One of my jobs as a mother is to protect my children. We’ve all read the stories about children who have committed suicide after being bullied online. I happen to have a couple of very sensitive children, and I know that there is the potential for some very real heartache to happen. Am I trying to shield them from every hurt this world has to offer? No. That’s impossible! Realistically, I know that they will be hurt by other kids. But, I don’t want it to happen over the Internet. If you’re going to hurt my kids, say it to their faces so that the hurt that is on their face is visibly seen. And then be prepared to run because this Mama Bear doesn’t mess around.
3. I want my kids to be engaged at home, not glued to the screen.
Ahhhhhh, yes. How much time have we wasted on social media? I’m not talking about promoting businesses or blogs or things like that. I’m talking about the mindless scrolling through newsfeeds every 15-30 seconds just because we’re bored. Seriously, whoever came up with those Fidget spinners was way behind the curve. Scrolling through social media accounts are the Fidget spinners of my generation. It’s a horrible habit that I am trying to break. It robs me of my time with my children and husband, and I have envisioned a future where my children are all sitting around on the couches, mindlessly scrolling through their social media accounts on various devises. It’s not a future I want for my kids.
Again, maybe you have a different viewpoint on this whole social media thing. That’s perfectly fine! I would love to hear from you about how you’re planning on navigating these waters with your children. I know I haven’t “arrived” as a parent, but I am trying to do my best. And if we don’t agree on these points, there is one point I think we can all agree on, and that is that we love our children and want what’s best for them.