This Is Exactly Why I Won't Let My Daughter Use Social Media

tweens taking selfies

There's some good news for all the parents refusing to cave when their middle schooler whines, "But alllllll the other kids are allowed to be on Instagram!" More experts have come out to warn parents that tweens really don't belong on social media.


If you're already firm on your decision to keep your kid off social media, the advice from Melanie Hempe, the founder of Families Managing Media, that's getting a lot of attention this week probably won't surprise you.

Hempe warns that young brains aren't yet ready to juggle the distractions of social media, and they need to be broken into tech slowly to teach them responsible means to use it. Without good Internet usage habits, kids are at risk for social media addiction -- it's not unlike video gaming in that aspect.

Hence the warning to delay, delay, delay when it comes to giving kids access. 

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"The longer parents delay access, the more time the child will have to mature so that he or she can use technology more wisely as a young adult," Hempe says in a guest post on Psychology Today. "Delaying access also puts a greater importance on and encourages personal authentic relationships and experiences to develop first."

Good advice for parents on the fence. And for folks who are already employing that tactic, it's a nice bit of support in the face of increasing pressure to get kids online. 

I'm used to my tween's telling me I should let her do something because "all the other kids are doing it." It's what kids do. But I never expected to hear that same line from the parents of other middle schoolers ... and over social media, no less. 

I've said no to social accounts for my daughter not because I have anything against social media -- it's been a crucial piece of my job for years -- but because the rules clearly state no kids under 13. If I let her break that rule, I set a precedent ... what other rules can she ignore?  

But at 11, nearly 12, she's one of a dwindling number of kids in her grade who aren't on some form of social media. Some of her classmates have even been bold enough to attempt friending me (which I typically decline ... I'd prefer to avoid being the one who accidentally said something naughty in front of an 11-year-old). And some of their parents have tried to school me on my -- in their eyes -- draconian social media rules. The most common accusation? I'm holding her back socially because all the other kids use it.

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If I'm being honest, I have to admit they've made me question my own parenting a time or two. Does she really need to be on social media now? Am I really shortchanging her? Then I think about all the kids out there who don't have Internet access at all (because, yes, this is a very first world problem, folks), and I calm myself down immediately. 

Expert commentary like this only further boosts my confidence. My tween will be allowed on social media soon enough, allowed to access a world where many kids find friends and have countless positive experiences. I'm a firm believer in using the Internet to expand horizons, and social media can do that for our kids. But for now, I'm happy to take this expert's advice and delay, delay, delay.

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