How Old is Old Enough?

As parents, we are faced with all sorts of decisions to make in regards to our children.  It is never-ending….what shows can they watch, what time is bedtime, are sleepovers ok…the list goes on and on.  The question we find ourselves facing with our kids now is in regards to phones and social media.

I’ll start by stating that I am probably over-protective of my kids. Not full-on helicopter mom mode, but still… I was pretty sheltered growing up and I think I’m better off for it. So that is probably influencing my parenting style.  There were shows we weren’t allowed to watch – Saturday Night Live, Three’s Company are a couple that come to mind right away.  And I think that taught me to have some discretion about what I am entertaining myself with.  The old Sunday School song, ‘Oh, Be careful little eyes’ comes to mind.  So, that is the standard that I’m trying to raise my kids by.  Am I perfect? No, my eldest sings way too many country songs that make me cringe by times.  Do they watch a few shows with ‘bad words’ in them? Yes.  And you should see them whip their heads over to me whenever they hear one in a show they love….probably for fear that I’ll shut them down.

But as they age and grow up, quickly before my eyes, I might add, the social media/phone thing has come up.  A few years back, I think they were the only ones in their classes without iPods.  And that was fine by me.  Then Michael and I both upgraded our phones and everything changed when there were extra phones in the house.  It started off that they’d play games on them, games about horses or spacial relations like ‘Draw the Line’ or something like that.  Then we set Lena up to text, but with very clear rules and the right to read every last word.  And I do read through them….but wow, what a lot of pointless messages flying around out there 😉

At some point we created a Pinterest account for Lena and she loves to pin horse pictures and craft projects.  I realize that she could find tons of trouble on there, if she went looking….but I believe that she doesn’t and is pretty innocent in what she’s looking out. Again, I have the right to look at her account, searches, etc.

But now the begging for Instagram has started.  And I’m probably to blame.  I rave about how much I love Instagram.  And a few of her friends are on it, some of them follow me and I follow them, mostly to keep tabs on what ‘kids’ are posting these days.  Sometimes I let her go on my account and look at her friends’ accounts or other accounts she’d be interested in, like Amber Marshall or the like.  I get why she wants to join Instagram but we honestly aren’t ready to take the leap into the realm of social media with our little pre-teen.

I’m sure I’m like most of you and have heard horror stories about the bullying and inappropriate things that happen on these platforms in the school age circles.  Friends who aren’t nice, people who act friendly but have ulterior motives, etc. etc….  And those are the reasons that make me hesitate.

This conversation comes up from time to time within my ‘mom’ friends as we navigate growing children and the things they ask for.  Some times it’s easy to say yes – you want to take riding lessons, ok, let’s make that happen { read that story HERE }  You want to bake cookies, sure thing.  You want to have a friend over, ok, let’s ask their mom.  But I come to a grinding halt when they ask for Instagram.  I check in with the handsome Mr. Byrne and we’re on the same page, too young, not yet.  They’ll grow up fast enough, let’s not hurry it along.

I know that eventually we will say yes.  My hope is that we have taught and modelled in a way that if the occasion arises that they find themselves in a difficult situation on social media, they’ll talk to us about it right away or have the compassion/knowledge/ability to deal with it in a responsible way.  We are raising these kids to send off into a scary world and I know that it has to start somewhere, the letting go and trust, but now?  No, not yet. Not on social media.

And I realize this may be strange, coming from me, the one with a blog and social media accounts on several platforms.  I realize I share parts of our lives here.  But, I also recognize that as the girls grow, they have a say in what I put out there.  I almost always check in with them before I post a picture or tell a story about them.  I respect their privacy.  If I happen to snap a picture, they’ll ask if it’s for the blog or sometimes they say, you can post that wherever you want or they tell me not to share it. And I have to go with what they say.

So, all this begs the question – how old is old enough?  How old should they be before they are allowed to wade into the waters of social media?  And what platforms should they be allowed on?  What platforms do you let your children on and how old were they?  Any insight is appreciated!

To be continued,

Lori

 

  • Alena - February 6, 2018 - 12:57 pm

    It’s a hard no for me as well. 11 year old boy in grade 6 and 9 year old girl in grade 4. My son just got his first email account and I Only has family so far. And he can only access it at home on the 42″ tv in the living room. They have no hand held anything. Any time they have asked my response is “what do you need it for?” And they don’t have and answer. I do not think they are able to comprehend that this will follow them forever. That any one who goes to interview them will find them on social media first. For me it’s a hard noReplyCancel

    • lori@farmfreshstyle.ca - February 6, 2018 - 12:59 pm

      It’s easy to say no right now for us, too. But for how long? ReplyCancel

  • Marian - February 6, 2018 - 1:07 pm

    Lori

    My son is 17 and I struggled with this since he was 11. When our family separated I needed him to have phone so we could stay connected. Until he was 13 he was not a latch key kid but even at before and after school programs he wanted to be able to reach me. So we both had smart phones with our own numbers but shared data. So he has had access since 11 years of age. I monitored his progression through social media: face time to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat. He posts his new haircuts and hats. The girls he knows post half naked pictures and duck faces. I think the whole girl culture is not a very positive thing. All this to say it depends. On you, them and the culture in which they are raised. Their generation is fully digital. Ours was not nor was yours. You will do what’s right for you.ReplyCancel

    • lori@farmfreshstyle.ca - February 6, 2018 - 1:09 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Marian! ReplyCancel

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