I have spoken with several parents who struggle with properly managing the relationship between their children and social media. When we allow our kids access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even desktops, we open up the world of social media. That is something none of us are prepared for.
Because the adolescent brain is reorganizing itself and risk-taking is high and impulse control is low, I can’t imagine a worse time in a child’s life to have access to social media than the pre-teen and early teen years.
Here are 5 reasons why we should seriously consider not allowing our kids access to social media.
1. Social media was not designed for our kids.
A tween’s underdeveloped brain is simply not designed to fight off the distractions and temptations that come with social media use. While it is entirely appropriate to start teaching responsible use of technology at this age, we must acknowledge that there is simply no way for us to teach the maturity that the proper use of social media requires. Make no mistake: our kids will use social media inappropriately until they are older.
2. Social media is nothing more than a meaningless form of entertainment technology.
Social media does nothing to make your child smarter or more intellectually curious. It provides no skills that will help your child succeed in his or her future endeavors. Its sole function is to entertain, and it often does this in a negative manner and at the expense of others. There are literally hundreds of other things your child can do that are a better use of their time.
3. Social media is an addictive form of screen entertainment.
We now know that people of all ages are prone to addiction to the screens we see all around us. Kids are especially vulnerable to getting hooked on today’s technology, and social media is often the gateway to this addiction. Needing to keep up with every post, comment, and “like” can turn our kids into obsessed zombies. No thanks!
4. Social media replaces sometimes difficult face-to-face interactions with peers.
When kids primarily interact with friends via screens, they are prevented from sharpening the interpersonal skills they will need during their life. For example, it can be difficult to disagree with someone in person, but learning how to tactfully do so is a vitally important social skill. We deprive our kids of these learning/growing opportunities when we allow them to hide behind the wall of social media.
5. Social media can cause kids to view their friends as more important than their family.
Strong family bonds are vitally important to the emotional development of our children. While friends do (and should) play a necessary role in the lives of our kids, they should never be viewed as more important than siblings, parents, and even extended family. With its emphasis on “likes” and other forms of artificial friendship, social media tricks our kids into believing that the attention and respect of their peers is what they ought to be pursuing.
I hope I’ve convinced you that your child will be much better off without social media in their life. I know that it seems as though every other kid is using it, but in the end, you are only responsible for what goes on in your family. Good luck!