Should Your Kids Use Social Media? Information You Need to Know.

Every child has heard it, and will one day grow up to say it themselves, “Back in my day, we didn’t have to worry about things like that.”  What am I referring to for most parents today?  Social media.  Parents today ask themselves questions like:

  • Does my child need a cell phone?
  • What will they do with it?
  • What are the risks?

These are just some of the things that are considered.  What is the answer?  Unfortunately, we don’t fully know yet, but I’d like to share a few things that have been discovered when it comes to social media.

Social Media Addiction

There are people who believe that social media addiction is not real and that it is not a proven disease.  Psychology Today defines addiction as “A condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health (Psychology Today, 2017).  According to this definition almost everyone I know would have an addiction to social media.  This article by Vice , explains it’s no accident that we are addicted.  Social media apps are designed like slot machines to keep users hooked.  When these companies draw more daily users they can charge more money for their advertising space, so it is a competition for your undivided attention.

Damage to Self Esteem

Several studies have shown that teens, particularly women, are unhappy with their appearance after using social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.  When users post to social media, they can choose the best photo and then edit it to appear flawless.  Also, you only see the “best of shots” on someone’s Instagram.  Users post their vacations, dates, extravagant meals, but rarely do they post the hard work it took to get them there.  This gives viewers an unrealistic comparison of their own appearances and their own lives making them feel inadequate.  This article by CNN explains more, and has some tips on what parents can do .

Predators and Risks

Companies looking to use social media for business face risks, but so do kids looking to use it for entertainment and communication.  Kids want to express themselves might not realize the future implications of their posts on social media.  An inappropriate rant about a friend, teacher, or parent could cost them a future job opportunity.  Kids could also be at risk of sharing identifying information about where they live, go to school, or their extra-curricular activities.  If your kids have access to the internet all of the time, this means that predators can have access to them and the information that they share.

No matter what you decide there will be implications and some of them have not been discovered yet.  Talk to your kids about technology, social media, privacy, and self-esteem so that they can come to you when challenges arise.

At what age do you think it’s appropriate to let kids use cell phones?

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6 thoughts on “Should Your Kids Use Social Media? Information You Need to Know.

  1. I love the structure of this article! You are able to get your point across to the reader in a very clear and concise way.

    Personally, I got a cell phone in grade 6. Despite the use of cell phones today, my phone was strictly to text only my parents. I had to let them know when I got home safely from school, etc. I think cell phones are a great emergency line for today’s society, however the other downfalls of social media are important to mention. I think your article did a great job with this.

    • Thank you for your feedback. I wonder if having a cell phone now in grade 6 is the same as when you were in that grade. You can do so much more with a cell phone thank you could before.

  2. I have teen and pre-teen nieces who are Instagram and Pinterest users. (Their mothers monitor their accounts and they have high privacy settings.) They talk about how many followers they have. It’s an additional pressure that I didn’t face growing up.

    • Thank you Bonnie. I agree that online popularity is an additional negative pressure for social media users. Are we still sharing for the sake of sharing, or are we seeking approval from others via “likes”?

  3. I can’t even imagine the pressure young teens face in this new social media era. They are pressured to have the perfect hair, most up to date styles, etc. Bullying just doesn’t happen at school anymore, it happens 24/7.

    I got a cellphone was I was old enough to pay for the bill. That would make me 16 years old. The pressure to have a cellphone in today’s age is different, so I’m not sure what age would be appropriate? It is somewhat is good safety feature for a child as well. I would say beginning of high school, so grade 9 would be a fair age. I don’t have kids yet, so its hard say!

    Great post! I like how you asked for questions at the end to spark debate!


  4. When my kids were in grade six and seven, they shared my old cell phone to text or call me when they were out with friends. They were becoming more independent and this gave us all a sense of security. My ex and I monitored their social media closely and helped them manage it via settings etc. We also stepped in when harmful situations involving bullying, flaming etc. started up. It was a learning process. I wouldn’t ban social media altogether though because a child can be ostracized or ridiculed by their peers if they’re not up on the latest social media trends, info. etc.

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