Thoughts about social media and kids

kids and their dog
My kids at the beach with Angus our best dog ever.

My kids are three years apart in age. They had different experiences with social media growing up. I think “My Space” appeared when my son was in junior high and he didn’t have a smart phone. Kids in his class got in trouble for bullying and posting content that wasn’t considered appropriate.

If I remember correctly, my son got his first iphone for high school graduation. Facebook, My Space and whatever else was popular back then wasn’t a significant part of his life.

My daughter on the other hand had friends with iphones as early as third grade. I think we held off until she was 13 or 14.

At the pool, whether it was swim practice or meets, before the advent of smart phones, the kids would all hang out together under pop-up tents and play word games, cards or Catchphrase. The high school kids would play alongside the middle and elementary school-aged kids. I loved that about swim team.

By the time my daughter was in high school, everyone sat like robots on their iphones. There was bullying going on between teammates sitting yards apart. Nobody talked or laughed like they used to.

Now I’m seeing reports from the CDC, prestigious medical centers and doctors that social media is harmful to kids under a certain age. Although most social media sites restrict use to kids under 13 — it’s a well known fact that 10 year-olds are using social media sites.

Here’s an excerpt from an article called Protecting kids from social media’s harms by Stephanie Whiteside:

(NewsNation) – How young is too young for social media?

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is saying 13 years old is too young for social media accounts. Under U.S. law, sites that allow those under 13 to create accounts have to abide by stricter policies around data collection and privacy.

Research has shown social media can be harmful to kids and teens who are still developing their identities, damaging mental health and even impacting brain development.

Legislation is being considered that would ban social media use for those under 16 years old. It’s much like banning the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes to under 18 or 21.

What are your thoughts about legislation and social media? Should it be up to individual parents? Or would it help to make social media against the law for younger than 16?

29 thoughts on “Thoughts about social media and kids

  1. Social media is very harmful for young kids, that’s what I feel. I don’t think government regulation can stop this usage but perhaps parents can?

  2. I think parents can easily fool themselves about what kids will or won’t do once they have their own phone at hand. First line of defense has to be the parents and setting restrictions on use- but we all know how smart kids are and how easily they can figure out ways around those restrictions. Same with legislation at higher levels. It won’t prevent anything, just encourage another outlet for blame. I’m thankful that high school in the 90’s for my kids was relatively internet free! They literally each got a flip phone with limited minutes for emergencies only when they could begin driving. That was it until they went off to college and gained control of how they used social media. Phones are already a big part of the conversation in my daughters house with the grands. Oldest has friends from age 9-12 who have phones with widely varied use limits. I’m watching events unfold with fascination and glad it’s not my call anymore!

    • My kids started with the flip phones with prepaid cards when they were younger. They were for emergencies but they used up all their time texting! I agree it has to be parents first who hold the line.

  3. The real issue, is far simpler. If parents don’t give their children phones and access to social media the parent will have to pay attention to the child. We were at a restaurant the other day and a family of 4 sat next to us. Both parens and the older child played on their phones while the young one just sat there – ignored. Can you imagine the damage being done to that child!

  4. Oh, this is a tough subject – and your description of friends sitting yards apart like robots on the phone really hits me. It’s a subject that I wish I didn’t have to think about for my kids who are only 7 and 3. But I think we shouldn’t rely on legislation – as a parent, this is my responsibility and there’s no shortcutting the fact that when they have phones, I’ll have to be in real, meaningful conversations with them about what’s going on and what they see. You have the experience so I’m sure you know better than I do, but I bet anything, even phones, can be used to be a catalyst for a good conversation with some luck and persistence.

    • I’m glad my we waited with our kids and weren’t parents who gave them smart phones at age 10 like some of my daughter’s friends.
      I read this about the social media and the CDC: “On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the agency’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted every two years, and it painted a grim picture for our young people.

      “Among the more alarming stats: Most teen girls (57%) felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, which is double the rate for teen boys (29%). Nearly one in three teen girls seriously considered attempting suicide.”

      I’m sure the shutdowns contributed to this, but also social media. I find it fascinating that many in the high tech industry in the Bay Area do not allow their children to have any screen time!

      Thanks for stopping by. I agree it has to be up to the parents, not legislation. Good luck with your children in the future. 😊

  5. I think it should be the parents not the politics regulating what their kids do. I didn’t let my kids have a phone until they were in high school. In fact, we didn’t even have internet in our house until the school started telling the kids to find their homework online, something that I was really angry about. I definitely told them never to talk to strangers online, a fact that they kid me about now as I talk to a bunch of people I’ve never met – LOL

    • I totally agree with you about it being the parents job, not the government’s. Also, I got a laugh over the fact that we do talk to a bunch of people we’ve met online!

  6. I resisted get a smartphone myself for a long time – I knew it would become as ubiquitous in my life as it has. And I actually ignore it a lot. For kids to have the devices and social media apps is just asking to have our society fall apart, I think. Laws aren’t the answer. Parents need more support on this though, like from schools and maybe even groups like scouting and 4H and sports teams.

  7. My thought: Another law they have no way of enforcing. Parents have to be diligent. The Gub’ment has not been able to stop teens from drinking, smoking, or having sex in spite of a zillion laws that are designed to stop it.

  8. I don’t think the goverment can control something like this, but it definitely needs to be controlled by the parents. Social media can be good in certain ways, but unfortunately it can also be so harmful and we need to protect our children!

  9. This is a really complicated issue because on one hand I do understand why someone would want to ban social media for kids. But realistically that doesn’t seem possible and in some ways social media can actually be a positive influence depending on how you use it. When I was on the wrong side of social media it really destroyed my self-esteem and made me hate how I looked. However, when I got older and got on the right side I saw so many people embracing their body and it made me feel better about myself and my “flaws.” I think parents need to talk to their kids about social media and have deeper discussions with them about how what they see online isn’t always real. And it may help to monitor what they do on social media.

  10. It’s such a tough problem. I’m not sure legislation is the answer, but I don’t have a real good answer. We were able to hold off our kids having phones until they were 13 or so, but it’s a real challenge. The thing I always warned our kids was that I needed to know their password and take their phone at any point to be a check. I’m not sure that’s the best approach, but it at least let them know that I was going to be involved in some way. It’s really sad though what social media can do to kids.

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