As an adult, social media is pretty hard to avoid these days. We all use it for a variety of things throughout our day whether for business or entertainment. 13 years old is the minimum age for the majority of social media sites and, in my opinion, this is for a very good reason.
Imagine my surprise at learning that some of the kids in my daughter’s grade are on a site called Musical.ly, a social media site that is 16+! Sorry fellow moms, I just don’t get it! Is there any justifiable reason that our eight year olds really need to enter the world of “likes” before their time? We’ve got a good 8 years before our children will even reach the suggested minimum age of this site. I’m scratching my head over here wondering why the rush. Couldn’t you just say no?
Recently a video circulated on Facebook (of all places- shocker!) entitled On Millenials in the Workplace. It was a fascinating watch and actually made me cringe as I listened to Simon Sinek describe our relationship as a society to social media and texting. I found the most enlightening part to be this: “We have age restrictions on smoking, drinking and gambling but we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones. Which is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet and saying to our teenagers ‘hey by the way, if this adolescence thing gets you down – help yourself.'” Whoa, just, whoa. So tell me again why my eight year old needs this right now?
How many of us have thought, “Thank goodness Snapchat and Facebook didn’t exist when I was young”? Adolescence and high-school were humiliating enough without the threat of an embarrassing moment being blasted in seconds online. Our children have so much more to deal with than we ever did when it comes to technology and friendships. When I was a teen, the biggest fear was that a friend would secretly let another friend listen to our conversation through call waiting. Technology has added a new fierceness to social interactions of the teenage kind that is 100 times worse than any call waiting phone betrayal.
That is why this mother will not allow her eight year old to use social media sites until the suggested age and even when she reaches that age, it will be with guidance and caution. Common Sense Media is a great online resource to visit whenever a game or app is considered by your child. Look up those apps together and talk honestly about the possible dangers of using them or any other online site.