I see it at least once a day.
And I have to be brutally honest, it drives me bananas.
My 12-year-old and I were chatting about the usual – sports, sports and sports. Then, the conversation shifted to cell phones, social media and who has the coveted mobile device. At our house, we tend to fall on the conservative end, not getting phones for our kids until high school, and they’re dumb phones at that. Somehow, they’ve survived.
As we visited about his day, an alarming trend began to emerge. Kids, going behind their backs and setting up social media accounts OR, parents, lying for their kids, on social media.
“Mom, almost all my friends have an Instagram account. They just lie about their age so they can be on social media.”
Parents, that is not okay.
Look, I love me some social media. But, with it comes responsibility and being the parent of a kid who reeeeally wants to be on social media is often times as much fun as repeatedly banging your head against a wall. True story.
I happen to be quite active on Instagram and I’ve seen some of those accounts. A few times, I’ve even taken a screen-shot of a questionable gram and sent it to the parents. Hey, it takes a village. A fellow mom did that to me when my son lapsed in judgment and I have appreciated her for it ever since.
Here’s the deal mama, don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ And for the love of all that’s holy, at least follow the rules on this one! There are age restrictions for a reason. Help your kid write a safe, non-identifying bio that doesn’t attract creepers (trust me, they’re out there). And keep that device in a public place. If your kid is on the ‘gram, or any other social media app, you better be on it, too. You should have your child’s passwords and monitor their accounts with random spot checks. Did you make rational decisions in your teens?
I thought so.
I can already hear it, the chorus of, “Oh, quit being a helicopter parent.”
I see your argument, and I raise you this. If your kid has a smartphone, you’ve just given them some serious access to the wide world of crazy.
- 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.
- The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average.
- 83% of boys and 57% of girls are exposed to group sex online.
- 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography online.
- 71% of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.
- 28% of 16-17-year-olds have unintentionally been exposed to pornography online.
- 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sext.
How do I know this? Those aren’t just some statistics made up of “other people.” We are those other people. We struggled with it in our home. So, yes, speaking from experience here. It’s never too early to teach your kids about the good, and evil, of living in our world today.
Not only that, but almost everything you read about teens and social media tells you that they’re growing up with more anxiety, lower self-esteem, a lack of direct communication and the inability to react to social cues because they don’t even know what those are. Nevermind the fact that teens, especially our girls, can become obsessed with their self-worth based on that coveted “like” button. Cyberbullying is real, y’all. These are adult challenges, adult problems and adult issues that we’re thrusting upon pre-teens all because many of us think it’s innocent pictures and videos.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on technology, social media or giving my kids freedom. But, I do believe in age-appropriateness, my kids’ view of the human body and teaching proper boundaries. Social media is awesome and fun and great, but it’s also a source of bullying, sexual exploitation and addiction if not taught with love and good decision making. Here’s some statistics you need to know.
If you happen to be looking for good, practical tips on how to institute rules on screen time and phones in your home, Elizabeth nails it.
Every family has different rules and guidelines when it comes to cell phones, social media and the like. It’s likely ours differ from yours and vice versa. This post isn’t about shutting the show down and locking my kids in the basement. Rather, it’s about moderation, maturity and good decision making – all things I hope we’re teaching our children when it comes to technology and social media today.
The next time your kid asks, “Hey, Mom, can I get a social media account?”, do your research, stick to your rules, be compassionate and don’t fear this new phase in your child’s life. Go in with eyes wide open, rather than keeping them shut and hoping for the best. And, for all that’s good and holy, quit lying for your kids and start being their advocate.