I’m THAT Mom: Why I Won’t Let My Kids Use Social Media

Why I Won't Let My Kids Use Social Media

KidsEmail70x70thumbnailHeather Bowcutt
Blogger at KidsEmail.org
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I have a confession to make.  It may surprise some of you, so sit down while you read this.

My kids don’t have social media accounts–and won’t have any social media accounts of any kind while in my home. There. I said it. That felt really good to get off my chest.

I was a young mother of 3 when the dawn of social media (as we know it today) arrived. Since that time, I’ve noticed the shift in demand for staying connected socially online. I’ve noticed the obvious benefit social media has in our daily lives, but I’ve also noticed the potential hazards it brings as well.

We’ve all read the headlines about someone being kidnapped or killed or robbed or bullied due to an online interaction.  While these issues are the extreme, and most of us use our social platforms worry free, there are risks, regardless.

Social media outlets have an age requirement of 13–due to COPPA guideline.  When my oldest daughter was old enough to open a social media account, my husband and I decided she wasn’t ready.  This daughter is one of the most responsible and honest kids I know, but she wasn’t and isn’t ready for the responsibility that comes with social media.  None of my kids will be responsible enough when they turn 13.

Does this mean I don’t trust my kids? Yes. Does this mean I’m overly strict and protective? Yup.

As far as social media goes, I’m very leery to let my kids have access for several reasons.  Not only do kids face social pressure at school,  but they face being bullied or harassed in their extra curricular activities, and the sad part is its the reality of being a kid. Kids are mean. Period. They’re trying to figure out how to act socially and how to fit in socially. In my home, the last thing I want to do is introduce another avenue for my kids to be bullied–or to bully others–while they’re navigating their own social identity.

Online predators love the easy access to children via social media. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the headlines, its that kids are too trusting when online interactions are concerned. It’s as if there’s a proverbial safety net behind a keyboard, but there isn’t. I taught my kids about ‘stranger danger’ when they were young–but online that teaching seems lost.

Posting photos may seem innocent enough, but images contain data that can be used to extract location- possibly putting my child in harms way. Then there’s the bad judgment photos. I’ve personally seen 13 year old’s post images online that were far too provocative, making them targets for all sorts of harassment online and in person.

The number of ‘likes’ does not mean anything in the real world and it shouldn’t online either, but for some reason it does. A healthy self esteem should not gained by ‘likes’ or ‘friends/followers’ or page views. I want my kids to understand that real life is only in the here and now. Real relationships are what matter most, not validation through a click of a ‘like’ button.

Isolation and jealousy on social media can be a real issue. My goal is for my kids to spend time doing real world activities that they personally enjoy–building themselves up as an individual, not spending hours and hours watching other people’s lives. We’ve all been there before, watching someone else go on vacation or buying a new car, wishing it was us instead. I want my kids to watch their own lives play out and be content with the life they have.

I’m not naive to the reality that kids hide stuff from their parents; it’s a natural part of growing up. I’m also aware that my kids can hide the fact that they have opened a social media account. That is something I’ll tackle if and when it happens. I’m just doing the best I know how in a very social media driven world. I want my kids to live in their reality just a little bit longer, and if avoiding social media for a few years helps that, I’ll take it.

About Heather Bowcutt

Heather is the is the primary author of the Kids Email blog, where she offers safety and parenting tips, for when the kids are online and off.

View all posts by Heather Bowcutt here.

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35 Comments on “I’m THAT Mom: Why I Won’t Let My Kids Use Social Media”

  1. Hey I just want to say I’m 15 years old who’s a girl, my mother and I “had” a wonderful relationship with each other, I’m not allowed social media until I’m out of the house which hurts a lot because Im a teenager, I understand where you guys come from but in my perspective it feels really suffocating and I don’t feel like my mother trusts me, I’m not even allowed to go out unless she knows who what when and where have my location sent but I can’t even go to a friends place even if its for a birthday party, I understand that you (mothers) are scared but please let us have some freedom, like if we were to have social media have access to it so you see everything just give us some trust so we trust ourselves, it hurts a lot knowing your own mother doesn’t trust you sometimes or thinks your stupid enough to get kidnapped. But we also need to learn and not be babied we’re growing and need to know things without someone breathing down our necks. yes kids can be mean but let us kids have social media so they’re less mean and we can also find people like us to create a safe environment for each other. (sorry if my grammar or punctuation is bad English isn’t my first language)

  2. I’ll also throw in my two cents since that’s what the comment section appears to be. I am 21 now and was not allowed to use social media until I got my driver’s license. By then, I had other things to do, and it just wasn’t interesting to me. Not having social media, I found I could still communicate with the people who mattered just as well using email or the home phone. Today I do use Snapchat for my siblings/friends to show what we’re up to as everyone has slowly moved away. I also use LinkedIn for business reasons, and technically, I own a twitter that I never use. I’m going to say I agree with my mom’s decision and will do the same thing. To me, the major worry is not pedophiles or weirdos though I might change my mind when I have kids, but the weird emotional attachment I saw my peers place on it and the importance of how many likes/follows they got. I don’t think that’s healthy at all and I think it probably contributed to other problems. I know it would have for me when I was young. Plus twitter especially, is just such a weird angry place. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life, and I don’t think kids need it either, especially when they are going through puberty and already having such a hard time emotionally.
    In the end, I think what’s important is that parents make decisions cool-headed and with the best in mind for the kid. My mom did a lot of “strict” things, but even if I disagreed, I never really resented because I knew she was doing it out of love, and I could always present my side to her and see if she would change her mind. That’s why some strict parents get a bad rap, cause they don’t explain their reasons for it or allow the teen to explain themselves and why they think its a good idea.
    Anyway, interesting post that made me think! Thank you for writing it!

  3. Well I have a snapchat account. well by the way snapchat is the safest social media apps. If you want to know what ur child is doing on social media than just make ur own account, dont have to check their phones. thats just stalking

  4. My kids are adults now but had this been available when they were young I would have been with you!

  5. This may do more harm than good, I’m a teen (17) and my dad is overbearingly strict. I’m not supposed to use ANY social media whatsoever and he won’t give a reason why. I’m home schooled so the only ‘friends’ I have are at my church and I only get to see them once a week, twice if I’m lucky. Social media is the only way for me to make REAL friends who share my interests, because of this, I sneak behind my dad’s back and use social media. So from a kid who actually uses it and not a parent who has misconceptions, here’s the truth:

    Social media is NOT full of mean or crazy people, you’ll only find pedos if you look for them and the people you’ll meet online are most times better than people in real life.

    All of my bestest friends are on Twitter and each and every one means the world to me. Recently, my dad found out about my Twitter and got extremely angry with me, going as far as to threaten to stab me. He took my phone away and now I’m extremely hurt. I haven’t been able to talk to my only friends in almost a week and my friends, like I said, are important to me. They’ve helped me when I was suicidal, with my anxiety and depression they’ve helped me with more than my dad or ‘real life friends’ have So I encourage parents to really think it through when they decide they don’t want to let their children use social media. Just my two cents.

      1. Focusing on the headlines is the flaw in modern society. We tend to focus on the 5-10 tragedies related to social media we see a year, and not the millions of perfectly fine people using social media today. It is not my concern to change anyone’s mind, but to shed new light on the concept, or perhaps alter the perceived misconceptions of the past.
        You will not find evildoers if you don’t wish to find them
        You will not overshare if you are mindful
        You will not converse with people you don’t know if you are smart

        If you don’t trust your child to do any of this, then I tell you, they don’t deserve social media.

  6. Your kid(s) will probably get made fun of more for not having social media as opposed to just being bullied by social media. Trust me, I speak from experience. It’s really sad to see all your friends on social media and you’re just reading the bible or some useless stuff like that. My mom is like this too. All my friends poke fun at me for having overprotective parents and not being allowed to do anything. And it hurts. They’re better off with it. It lets them connect, the risks are easily avoidable, and it brings out the photographic creativity aspect of social media.

  7. Sorry but from teenagers perspective I see things differently. I’m 14 and my parents haven’t let me to get any social media accounts. Although I see the danger in people harassing teens, etc. but the same thing could happen anywhere else. Because I don’t have social media, I still have friends yet they barely text me, they end up just talking to each other in Snapchat or instagram. I am commonly left out and don’t get as close to my friends. You say kids can get bullied on social media but they can get bullied anywhere else too. I always hear “why can’t you get instagram or Snapchat” “you should just get it ” but I can’t and I’m left out. I want to get close to my friends from camp, but I can’t because it’s not like I’m going get to text them everyday. Also let teens be teens, social media is part of exploring who we want to be. I love photography but I have nowhere to post it. I’m sorry if I come out mean but I feel the pain everyday of not fitting in. I’m am currently in tears writing this. As you said kids are mean, so let people like me fit in so kids are not mean to us.

    1. Hi May, thank you for sharing and I am sorry you were in tears writing that. I am sure there are a lot of others in your same shoes and it helps to hear that they aren’t alone. I know you feel like you are missing out, but there are a lot of other ways to communicate with friends other than social media. In my opinion social media is less about communicating and tends to be more one sided where people push out information instead of an actual conversation. I’m sure your parents are less concerned with the communication aspect of social media and more concerned with what people are putting out there. Maybe try focusing on the people that DO communicate with you via other outlets such as in person, phone calls or texting. There are plenty of other outlets for you to post your photography. Here are some examples: https://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/best-photography-portfolio-websites/2/. You will one day get on social media and realize that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.

    2. Same here, i’m a 15 yr old guy, and my parents don’t even bother looking into what it actually involves or how social media apps like instagram or snapchat function, and the different privacy settings you can have to prevent predators and the like. I only know about these through my school and friends, who actually know we have accounts and have special safety days to keep us safe on social media. And guess what, my parents think they are very beneficial classes, despite my parents preventing me from having any accounts. I completely agree with your “why don’t you get snapchat” thing, my friends often ask me to get them, but I can’t and so feel left out. The closest thing I have ever had to an account was an account (through school) on Quora, and my parents even lectured me about that, even though they know I am one of the best behaving students, and am more than smart enough to not write something i’ll regret.

      Parents, please do some (any) research into what social media accounts can do, and the safety features like blocking and making accounts private that go along with them. Then consider if your son/daughter can have one.

      Thanks :)

  8. Hey every one i want to tell you guys about my parents they always collect my phone and said that they don’t want me on social media i mean i am just fifteen years old going to sixteen they claim that i shouldn’t be on social media and me myself i am so freaking tired of them saying that i should not be on social media and it is going too much in my house. Please what should i do

    1. Hi Joseph, just remember that your parents have your best interest in mind and probably have a valid reason for not wanting you on social media. Maybe they are willing to talk to you about why they have come to that decision that will help you better understand.

  9. I think you’re just don’t want to deal with it. There are restrictions there are guidance and there is alot of sites that’s educational and not allow them to wonder off into the social media sections. Block them. I do understand about social medial,but not the education part, what’s wrong with that? Nothing you just don’t want to bother or take the time.. or maybe you’re one of those mothers who has to be controlling. Kids that are left out will find it later then that’s when they go hog wild sorta speak. Because they had no guidance. You mothers are doing more harm than good. It will show up later just wait and see.

    1. Thank you for your opinion Amy. We believe every parent has the right to choose how they raise their children and what they decide to expose them to.

    1. Everyone is different and we appreciate your opinion. We agree that you have to do what works best for you and your family!

  10. I never want my kid to be exposed to anything crazy or be cyberbullied. I can’t always see their conversations with people when they are on their own account and I know that teenagers will be teenagers.

  11. My kids are still little but I don’t think I will be letting them have their own accounts either. I have seen so many inappropriate things pop up in my news feeds that I don’t want to see much less have my kids see. It’s good to see that YouTube, Google, & Netflix have started kids versions of their sites to potentially limit exposure to things inappropriate.

    1. It’s good that you’re thinking about this ahead of time, Holly. You’re right that there is so much inappropriate stuff out there. It’s our job as parents to do the best we can to educate and protect our kids.

  12. It’s a scary internet world out there and being a parent, I feel horrified whenever I read news about kids being kidnapped. My kids are still young to be able to ask for social media accounts but I think when they’re ready, I’d love for them to experience it but with adult supervision, I’d want them to know the risk and also educate them about it.

    1. That sounds like a great approach, Justin! Of course bad things can come out of social media, but so can many, many good things. Staying involved in your kids’ lives, and helping them navigate the internet/social media in a safe way sounds like a smart plan. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  13. I agree with this completely. We live in a different world than we grew up in and the world is full of crazy hurtful people. My kids will not have a social media account at my house but I can not protect them when they are at a friends house and use their computer. All I can do is talk to them and tell them about the dangers and pray that they listen.

    1. Sounds like you are very involved with your children’s safety, Beverly! Thanks for the comment!

    2. Child’s safety, huh? It’s stupid how parents like you think you guys are sheltering your kids when you guys are just putting them in a detention center. I bet you’re the kind of parents that are helicopters and hover over their child. Let’s not forget how you refer to a website to get your parents’tips. “When we grew up I had to learn how to bear a child and only follow one article”. Refer to one of the older simpsons episodes, you get swayed like Marge and Homer when they talk about trophies. Someone as old as you probaly have seen this episode.

  14. I agree with you completely! My girls do not have social media accounts and honestly, no one can give me a good reason they would even need one in the first place. Social media is full of rude people, mean people, crazy people and a lot of things I would never allow in my home. I read way to many articles about terrible things that have happened to teens thanks to online nonsense

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Desirae! It sounds like lots of our blog visitors agree with Heather’s perspective here. Glad to see that you’ve given lots of thought to this issue and decided on what you think is best for your kids!

  15. I too do not allow my son a social media accounts of any kind,nor will I ever tpo any things can happen there,pedophiles,hacking,the ability to locate your home,you’re not the only one,we r with you!

  16. I agree with this completely. We live in a different world than we grew up in and it takes a more defensive parenting style to help protect our children. The emotional state of a teen is not ready at 13 to deal with the idiocy that is on Facebook and twitter.

    1. Glad to hear your two cents, Crystal! Sounds like you have really thought this out. Thanks for the comment!

  17. Thankfully my boys are too small to understand what Social Media is. I’m worried about their activity on Social Media when they get older though.

    1. It can certainly be tough to know how much policing to do as a parent!

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