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