A few weeks ago, I got asked by a local church to talk to their parents about strategies to help monitor their kids’ social media use. This topic is one I get asked about a lot, and I know that a lot of parents are struggling with it. When they brought me up there, they were looking for a silver bullet of an app, service, or method to use to help make sure their kids don’t get into trouble on social media. I started the talk with a simple statement: your kids don’t need social media accounts and you don’t either.
Do kids need social media accounts?
Before you immediately close the page, hear me out. Facebook has now been around for 15 years, Twitter has been around for 13 years, and Instagram has been around for 8 years. These services have become engrained in our lives. My oldest son who is almost nine doesn’t know a world without them. All of my kids have grown up with Wi-Fi, super-fast internet, iPads, and iPhones. For them, technology is a way of life. For me (I’m in my mid–30s),
I grew up without so much of it. That’s not to say we didn’t have computers in the house (we did), but I didn’t grow up with social media, mobile devices, or much of what the current generation has. I grew up playing computer games (Quake, Doom, etc.), Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Dreamcast, etc. We didn’t feel the pressure to get likes, retweets, or become a social media influencer. We had the pressure of knowing the best plays in NCAA football. In hindsight, we had it much better. How did we get here? How did we get to a place where you have document everything for the world to see?
As I continued the discussion, I asked one of the parents, what are your goals for your life? They gave me a few things, and I asked how Facebook or Instagram helped with that? They said it didn’t. I then asked the same parent about their goals for their kids. They gave me a few answers, and I asked how a Facebook account helped with that. They agreed it didn’t. My next question was how many people have read something on Facebook that made them mad? Basically, the entire room had their hand up. I think that was the eye-opening moment for a lot of them. They realized that social media wasn’t helping them accomplish their goals, and it was making them angry.