At what age did/will you give your kids a cell phone? Will it be a smartphone or a simple talk and text phone without apps?
Maybe your kid wore you down enough for you to finally agree to a smartphone. Heaven forbid they're the ONLY kid in their class without one. You realize it doesn't stop there, right? Now they HAVE TO have social media. You either gave your kid the phone and have no further involvement or you gave the phone and attempted to place as many parental controls on the device as possible, while trying to regulate activity. Good luck with that. If you don't set restrictions that do not allow downloading apps, any kid can go ahead and set up their own social media profiles. They don't technically need you for that. If you did set those restrictions, do you have any controls in place for their Internet browsing? If not, they can still access social media and set it all up through the browser. Things get pretty complicated once they have that shiny little device in their hands.
Let's say you allow social media. Maybe you approved the app but only if you have their login info. Genius! Oh wait, I guess that means they can go ahead and create a secondary profile, now that they have the app and all. Yeah but you have their email login info too and you'd know it if they did. Would you really? Any kid can create a new email address on gmail or yahoo within seconds. They're extremely savvy....probably more so than YOU.
All parental controls go out the window the SECOND they have social media access. If you think you have any control over what your kids are able to see and access, think again. Don't believe me? Do you have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc? Go ahead and do a random search for something in one of those platforms that your kids may innocently search for. Or worse, search for something a curious little mind may search for when left unattended.
Guess what else? Kids can't be cyberstalked or coerced to meet up with strangers they meet online if they don't have the profiles. They are less affected by cyberbullying if they aren't online. Does this mean kids can't have photos or videos uploaded of them, making fun of them? Of course not. Bullies will try to hurt their targets any way they can. These kids can say and do horrible things online and then continue the conversation at school. Many kids who are bullied online are also being bullied in person. Schools are coming on board with the anti-bullying stuff and will hopefully be able to squash it when they see it. If you know it's made its way to the school, you can take it to the administration.
Without having a social profile and the constant connection to the haters on social media, your kids won't have to deal with the overwhelming bombardment of negativity. Social media creates a false sense of reality in the world around them. Kids are too immature to know how to separate this. Thus, "cyberbullying was strongly related to suicidal ideation in comparison with traditional bullying" (JAMA Pediatrics, 2014).
Social media can either make you feel really connected or really disconnected. It can bring communities together and boost self-esteem. It can also completely crush self-esteem and show division in those who aren't with the "in" crowd. The outcasts can witness others' friendships flourishing and offline gatherings documented via social media. It reminds them just how much they're missing out on.
An in-house survey by Hill Holiday of "more than 1,000 18 to 24-year-olds across America discovered a total of 41 percent are made to feel anxious, sad or depressed by platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat" (McAteer, 2018). In a child predisposed to depression, social media use can exacerbate these feelings.
I recently met with a local school superintendent who said the biggest problem for society is the fact that kids these days have unlimited access to information that's highly unregulated. It is information overload without understanding how to interpret what is being thrown in their face or how to decipher what is true and what is false or what is reality versus fantasy. Can you imagine what a child's view of sex and relationships would look like if he or she got ahold of pornography? I can tell you this, it's not pretty. We want our kids to be techy but we also must be aware of what is contributing to their education of the world around them. It's our responsibility as parents to be involved and to help guide them while they learn and mature.
I say with absolute conviction, SMARTPHONES HAVE NO PLACE IN SCHOOLS or in the hands of children! Ask your kids, elementary through high school, how many of their classmates have smartphones. Are there school policies for smartphone use? I bet many of the kids aren't following the rules. I've already seen this happening among middle schoolers I know who have used them to hurt other classmates.
Kids do not need smartphones OR social media. PERIOD! Does it crush your heart because all of their friends have it and they don't? WOMAN up, lady! That's part of being a good parent. Saying "no" is vital for us to stop raising entitled punks who have no integrity and no respect for authority.
When they have a friend over, will you have a basket to collect their friend's phone when they enter your home? What if they don't turn it over? Might be a good idea to come up with a family policy on this.
How's that flip phone looking right about now?
Or you could go this route...
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- Tags: children, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, depression, flip phones, internet safety, parenting, safe kids, school safety, smartphones, social media, suicide