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Should Kids Have Social Media – The Pros and The Cons

Should kids have social media? When parents including me, think of social media, the first involuntary thoughts that comes to mind are kids coming across some dangerous, evil people whose intentions are straight out set on corrupting and destroying their innocent kid The fight is for  preserving innocence, as long as it is possible. We all endeavor to extend these innocent years even if it can be just one extra year or few months for that matter. Part of the intrusive imaginations includes seeing our kids being addicted to social media, withdrawing from us, being pressurized by fake lifestyles, being bullied, losing touch with real friends and eventually being left unhappy or even depressed. The truth is these are not unfounded concerns, there are piles of evidence supporting these concerns.

One million dollar question that’s very difficult to answer is, are our kids developed enough?are they ready to face this unpredictable world? The question is the same for a mom of a 10-year old and for the mom of a 16-year old, because in our eyes our kids will always be our babies. The software that get installed in our minds when they are born it rarely gets upgraded as they grow, they remain our babies.

My 2nd big question is with the pandemic in view, considering it has stifled their social life, and considering that most of the changes it brought will be with us for a very long time, is there a possibility of parents sitting down to question their common automated, intrusive thoughts when social media is mentioned.

Even before the pandemic our social lives were not what we ideally would desire them to be. Social interactions as we know them have been suffering slow death for years.

The truth we need to face is that social media, is slowly replacing what we used to know as social life. Are we ready to adapt to the new?

The purpose of this post is not to influence anyone’s view whether it is right or wrong for kids to be allowed to use social media. That remains every parents discretion, considering that circumstances will always differ from one family to the next and with the understanding that kids same age or not are not the same.

The objective of the article is to ensure that our Yes or No, to the use of social media is not only depended upon the common intrusive, automated thoughts. The objective is to ensure that we get to sit down and make room for non automated thoughts that are triggered by asking ourselves critical, relevant, timely questions.

Nature Of Social Media

Social media was created for sharing information, ideas, interests and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. It was created to enhance and supplement our offline social lives. There has never been a better way to share information, memories and connect with people. With this in mind, it is not right for the entire system to be painted by the same negative evil brush because of few rotten potatoes.

Social media in its nature is a beautiful dynamic vehicle with amazing potential to add great value to anyone who responsibly use it and understand why they use it .

Pros

It helps users to understand and be in touch with social issues around them.

It enhances social skills

It enhances communication, giving a voice to the shy & introverted.

It is an amazing networking platform ( offers an opportunity to network with like-minded people who might probably be out of reach offline).

Great platform for the expression of talents and skills to an ever present audience.(without an audience talents and skills of whatever form can go to waste). The offline audience can be very narrow.

It teaches diversity and tolerance.

Can be used as a supportive network for school, business and community projects.

Cons

Cyber bulling

Sexting

internet addiction

                                                                                   sleep derivation

Impact on productivity

Can cause depression

Tips on a productive social media conversation

Totally restricting kids not to use social media might not be practical in the digital world they find themselves in. If you cannot totally restrict them the best next option is to sit down and have an educational conversation with them.

1. Do not lecture

Don’t approach the conversation with your authoritative cap on, create an environment that says to the child your views will be valued. You need to find out what they already know, and use your adult wisdom to bring balance to that if needs be. Lecturing can make the child to shut down and you might miss an opportunity to influence his or her social media views if he feels like he is in a church or classroom, where his responsibility is to receive the information

2. Approach the conversations with an attitude to learn

Our kids are not called digital natives for no reason. In most cases they will always be a step ahead in terms of what they know and understand about the digital, social media world, be open to learn, if they are already using social media be willing to be part of the apps they are using to understand and also monitor from within than from the outside like some police detective. Acknowledge that you know less and let the natives teach you their language.

3. Do not only emphasize the downside of social media.

In their lives, social media is the thee thing, the minute you overemphasize the downside, you will be perceived as an enemy. You need to at least give an impression that you are on the same team.

Do your absolute best to not encourage the kiddo to open accounts and participate on platforms behind your back.If s/he believes that you are on the same team there will be no need to want to hide where he hangs out online. You want your child to be open about his online life the same way you desire his openness about his offline life. If he is able to tell you that he is bullied at school and you intervene he must be able to tell you that he is bullied online but most kids do not report online bullying and harassment because they fear judgment and punishment from their parents.

If you need to talk about the downside, approach it as a conversation, ask them open-ended question about the social media negatives they know, real life stories can help rather than just mentioning of fact.

3. Emphasize the positives

We have already established that totally restricting  it is close to impossible, so be on a mission to promote the pro’s of social media, find stories and examples of the lives it has positively changed and share them with enthusiasm. Find ways to put it in context for him, for example how it can help him reach a larger audience with his creative talent ( It can be writing, singing, painting drawing, whatever it is, it needs an audience) , In essence be a proclaimer of the good happening around social media, when he thinks about it, he will desire to explore all the good you have proclaimed .

The vibe around these conversations must be positive, use humor where possible, make no room for tension, it shouldn’t be a court like situation where he is going to get his final verdict. He must have that view that this is just an extension of who I am in real life, he doesn’t have to change caps when he gets online and be a different person

4 Let their WHY be big & good enough

This old known quote by Dr Myles Munroe is very relevant to this social media conversation, ‘where purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable’. Before he gets involved with social media, the WHY conversation between parents and the child must hold. It must never just be because all his friends are there, With all the pros and cons in mind he must be challenged to think and write down why he thinks it is good for him to be on social media and what value is he intending to derive from it. If he doesn’t know then he is not ready, he can easily be blown by all other things happening on social platforms. These reasons can be printed and pasted where he can see them every day. Most importantly these reasons must form part of the ongoing conversations on this subject.

5. Let the conversations be empowering and equipping

He must never approach social media with a victim mindset, as a small boy waiting to be preyed on. He now knows the pros, cons and his WHY is clear, he must now go and own his space. It has been said life is the battle of territories if he doesn’t fight for what he wants and stick by his WHY, what he doesn’t want will automatically takeover. He must by now be learned about cyber security, what is right and wrong to post and to tolerate. He must by now understand what the block button is for and most importantly he must know that you got his back, he can come to you anytime and you can lovingly see him through whatever challenge he comes across online.He must know with confidence that you are there as a reference point, whatever he doesn’t understand big or small he can enquire anytime. The confidence he has as a result of this knowledge and your will automatically scare  the chancers of.

 

 

Final Thoughts – Introspection

Asking ourselves key critical unbiased questions will help us to come to an informed conclusion about our kids use of social media. Like mentioned previously the answers will differ based on the family context, the child maturity,personality ,habits and more.

Examples of questions to be asked are:

Have I educated myself enough on the subject to make a sound decision?

Can educating myself and the kids make a difference?

Is it a social media issue or it is a trust & communication issue between me and the child?

Are my thoughts on the issue relevant to the times we are in?

Most of what we know in life we had to experiment and make mistakes. Is there a safe way to let kids experiment and learn from their mistakes?

Am I a good role model on this matter? if not what should I change?

How does my decision on the issue impacts my relationship with the child and my child relationship with the digital world he finds himself in.

Here is to Raising Boys To Be Incredible Men.

 

Would love to know your thoughts and experiences on the subject.

 

34 thoughts on “Should Kids Have Social Media – The Pros and The Cons”

  1. This is a great topic, especially for parents of teenagers like myself. There are so many conflicting views on social media and no parent wants there child to be a victim of the negative impacts. My rule is if my child has an account, so do I and he is required to have me as a friend so I can monitor if necessary.  This was one of the suggestions in your article and I feel that it is very good advice and has worked for me so far.

    Reply
    • I fully concur, especially at a very early age, it is very important for parents to be on the friends list for monitoring and protection,

      Im glad you enjoyed the article.

      Reply
  2. Hello Bogadi Rammuki,

    I must say this is a great topic to write about and i came across the blog just by chance. Kids should definitely have access to social media as this is the future of all work and relationships. Social media was created for sharing information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. It was created to enhance and supplement our offline social lives. But it has instead made us fall apart and reduced our real social interaction in some ways. But it is still a necessary evil. 

    It is best to concentrate on the positives of the social media revolution; and there are many. 

    Aparna

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading.

      Laughing at ‘ the necessary evil’  which is very true .

      Concentrating on the good will overshadow the bad eventually .

      Reply
  3. Thank you for a very important article, very powerful. My wife and I have raised children in this digital age. Awareness was our focus, always vigilant as to what they were doing while also respecting their privacy. Like you, we also had a concern for their safety and shared this concern with them. To help them navigate, we encouraged them to treat people online the same way you would treat them in person, with respect and being kind. We set up privacy settings with them and explained the importance of password protection, not to be shared with anyone. We encouraged them to be mindful of shared information, especially locations, and to never communicate with anyone they did not know. I agree with you in that it is important for our children to be tech savvy, yet they cannot lose that true connection with people. 

    Reply
  4. helloo dear, wow i really want to thank you for sharing such an amazing post with us all, i was actually doing some research online when i saw your post, i must say i have never really looked at the effect social media has on my child before, when reading these post i couldnt help but wonder what my child is really doing with his phone and the effect social media has on him, i believe his matured enough to the right thing, buh we all are all human beings he might fall victim to those negative influencers out there, so i really really gratefull to you for opening my eyes to things i just dont pay attention to, i believe after now ill give him some advice and refer him to your site, thanks alot

    Reply
    • It is my pleasure.Social media is huge and diverse.I believe an adult should hold their hand to introduce, teach them how to best navigate that world.He will thank you later.

      Reply
  5. Hey there this is an amazing review you have got here. i am sure that the quality information in this post will be of great help to anyone who comes across it , wow i really like the way the way you listed the way to monitor them especially the learning attitude am sure going to try this out after now thanks for sharing this with me.

    Reply
  6. This is a very controversial topic. I know that times have changed and it is extremely difficult today to say your children “You cannot use social media” or ” I want to protect you from them”. It can be the case for many reasons, maybe the main one is that your children are living in a world that is too different from yours. I really appreciate when you say that lecturing should be avoided.

    Reply
    • Thank you Rosalia

      We cannot turn a blind eye to that truth. They live in a world that is different from ours.So we need to understand their world so that we can groom them accordingly.

      Reply
  7. This is a very controversial topic. I know that times have changed and it is extremely difficult today to say your children “You cannot use social media” or ” I want to protect you from them”. It can be the case for many reasons, maybe the main one is that your children are living in a world that is too different from yours. I really appreciate when you say that lecturing should be avoided.

    Reply
  8. It is very good for us to consider the good and bad aspect of everything in life and it is very good that you’ve done just that in this article. It can be good for kids to have social media and it can be bad but what really matters to me, is how well we as parents cab help these kids make use of the social media positively, thanks.

    Reply
  9. Nice article. First, I don’t think that kids on social media are evil, nor that it woll make them evil. The pandemic has, of course, changed everything in how we interact with others and live our lives – and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. For that reason, if none other, we have to view social media as it relates to our children. I love that you include some “action steps” to help parents who might be trying to figure it out. There has to be a two-way street between kids – especially as they are at the age when their opinions should matter – and their parents.

    Reply
  10. There is nothing perfect in my opinion. Us human are such a social being that we love to engage with each other. But because we work long hours That  is when the social media came in. I still think that social media cannot beat meeting your loved one physically.

    I came to this conclusion later in life as I am older and hopefully wiser. However for our children is another story. It can be both a good idea or a bad idea. 

    I personally think that we cannot stop kids from having a social media but what we can do we can slowly educate them the good and the bad side of the social media. 

    My little sister used to pin “home” location for the world to see, That is Dangerous period! I was so furious at her, many things could have gone wrong. I heard many horror stories of people got burglarized because of this.

    However, i rationally spoke to her about the danger of sharing to much information for anyone to see. I also told her that it is not wise either to post everything, if she applies for jobs the recruiters can just come and judge her before even met her in person. 

    Your tips are right on. We do not want to come too aggressive but approach with compassion and make them understand.  

    Reply
    • Hi Nuttanee

      Thank you for the value you are adding here. I agree that experience made you wiser. Parent’s position is to guide ,correct and direct that is given but what is more important is How it is done. Love & empathy, compassion should lead the way 

      Reply
  11. This is a great post on the pros and cons of social media for kids, and one that can be very controversial and lead to heated discussions. You have given us some very useful tips on having a productive conversation with your kids about social media. 

    I have always maintained an open channel of communication with my two boys and shared my concerns with them. I think it helped them to understand why I would say no to something (and that does not only apply to social media) and it gave them to chance to say why they thought they should be allowed to do something. 

    A blanket no, does not work as the child will then do things behind your back, which is not good for trust. Over the years my boys have taught me a lot as well, so it is important to talk and share and keep the communication channels open.

    Reply
    • Hey Line 

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy

      I fully agree ‘A blanket no, does not work as the child will then do things behind your back, which is not good for trust’

      Reply
  12. I know that my parents grappled 60 years ago with whether or not I should be able to watch TV because of the content.  They decided that monitoring was the way to go because no TV, even back then, would me missing out on some social content and being “out of it” in school.  I think social media is good today for communication and information, but, contrary to many opinions, I think parents have the right and responsibility to monitor and manage social media presence for their kids until they are adults. 

    Reply
    • HI Anastazja 

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy. What you are saying is interesting – To note that the struggle started during TV days .

      I agree parents should monitor the social media of their kids not in a detective kind of way though but with the intention to guide and mentor.

      Reply
  13. I’ve always maintained the stance on technology and social media by extension that it is neutral. That is, it is neither good or bad but rather the positivity or negativity comes from those that use it. In that sense, I believe that rather a child’s usage of mobile devices be monitored and supervised, the child itself should be the one monitored 

    Reply
    • Hey Beesean. I really like your position ‘technology and social media by extension that it is neutral’

      There is no better truth .

      Reply
  14. This has been a very useful post to me. Social media has benefits but as everything else, it has cons too. If social media can affect us as adults draining our productivity, how much can it affect our vulnerable kids. I understand that the approach we choose when addressing social media with our kids is all important. It must be a balanced approach.

    Reply
    • Thank you Ann for stopping by The Incredible Boy

      I like the fact that you acknowledge that social media can also affect adults. It takes discipline for one to enjoy the pros of social media without adverse effects of the cons. It is our responsibility to teach our kids that discipline.

      Reply
  15. What a fascinating site and great website name with a terrific and inspiring picture.    It inspires confidence that a boy (& a girl too) can grow to become a successful adult.  You raise an important point that many parents are concerned about with regard to social media for their children. I am inclined to agree that social media has, particularly in this horrible pandemic replaced or at least helped to maintain children`s and indeed adults social lives.  I particularly like this point that made me reflect; “make ro*m for non aut*mated thoughts that are triggered by asking ourselves critical, relevant, timely questions.” The pros and cons are also eloquently described, the point about not lecturing is a very good one. Also emphasising the positives. Thank you for making me think and reflect on the issues you have raised. With mobile phones so ubiquitous now, how do you address what seems like addictive behaviour with social media e.g taking them to bed, leading to poor sleep?  Whether with an adult or a child? I have that problem with a partner so would appreciate your advice.

    Reply
    • Hey Trevor thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

      I am glad you found value.

      On  your partners issue -, she needs to start by realising its negative effects and make a decision to do something about it. The decision can be deciding on a time in the evening when she will totally switch off from social media. She can then decide how to fill the vacuum. It can be by spending time with the family, reading, meditaitng or whatever  she is interested in .

      Reply
  16. I must say that I agree with your article. There are positive things for children to use social media and the internet but in my opinion, there are more negative effects especially at an earlier age. Cyber bulling is unacceptable in any case so we have to work on education of parents to control usage of internet by their kids. 

    Reply
    • Hi Natasa 

      I believe that the negativity of social media aggravated by lack of education and guidance. Parents should not leave this form of education o peers or to trial and error

      Reply
  17. Hello Bogadi,

    Thank you for sharing your website. I found it very useful and engaging. 

    I liked the idea of natural consequences when it comes to raising children with well manners and discipline them in its best and natural way with fewer words or emotional conversations. In fact the lesson learned through this method will never be forgotten even though they grow up as adults.

    Best of luck for your future endeavors!

    Reply
  18. firstly nice article, a very important topic. my answer is yes kids should have social media …there is a saying; anything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage …well in this case the advantage outweighs the disadvantage. Social media can help young children feel more comfortable about communicating and being around others. When they click “Like” or comment on a post, they gain confidence and become less shy, so it helps them feel more confidence.

    Reply
    • Hey Khali

      Good to have you over at The Incredible Boy

      I like your point view ‘anything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage’

      I agree under parental supervision kids can be slowly introduced to social media .

      Reply

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