Social Media + Tweens: Why we’re taking it slow…

Social Media + Tweens: Why we’re taking it slow…

I have a 12 year old. Like most kids this age she is ready and waiting for our big conversation about WHEN she will be allowed to have an Instagram account. She finds it really annoying that I won’t let her use SnapChat. And, can’t believe I won’t get her an iphone, especially when all the other kids have one…

social media tweens parenting

Yeah, I know I’m not alone here.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone and my Facebook and, well, I think I may just need to get on the Instagram bandwagon because, you know, everyone is on Instagram.

But I don’t want my 12 year on it.

And I feel good about that.

I recently found myself talking about how I do let my daughter know that all of those things are in her future, but I am not going to fling the door right open and let her walk through.

Because frankly, there is some crazy sh*t out there!

Here is where I get curious, and wonder about the best thing to do, am I choosing to keep her off all of this from a place of fear? And if I am, is that the right thing to do??

Ahhh, it’s so darn messy.

It’s so easy to spiral into the inner dialogue about all that is dangerous and easily accessible to kids today. It’s so easy to search for stories about social medial and kids and become a ball of tension and fear…. Lets go there for a minute.

Cyber bullying
Online predators
Internet porn
Facebook depression (yeah, I swear that is a real thing, check out the latest research on Facebook, envy and depression on this video)

Ok, ok. I could go on and get really crazy with all of this. But here is the reality – social media is here. It’s here to stay and evolve and be a part of our children’s lives. There is no getting around it.

So what’s a mom to do? Extreme control over this will only invite my kids to go underground, right? Getting sneaky is what kids do. They aren’t afraid, they’re mad that we just don’t get them. If that is the case, then I want my kids to learn how to navigate the terrain. I want them to know how to manage the temptations that show up when they are online.

Maybe I just need to shift the way I am thinking about this online world idea… Maybe its time to think about what I do want for my kids…

I want my kids to practice integrity when they are online.
I want my kids to be creative and expressive when they are online.
I want my kids to define their worth from an internal place, so that likes, followers and engagement doesn’t determine how they feel about themselves.
I want my kids to be smart about who they let in.
I want my kids to celebrate others, interacting in a way that brings joy, humor and compassion to their world.
I want my kids to recognize the power they have to set the vibe.
I want my kids to recognize the power they have to define themselves.
I want my kids to recognize the power they have to contribute to or retreat from a conversation online.
I want my kids to know the risks and the dangers that exist in the world they are entering.
I want my kids to value privacy.

That is a long list of skills. And the only way my kids are going to learn these skills, to ultimately learn to embody them, is if they practice.

And the only way they can practice is to have the opportunity to play online.

Oh gosh.

Ok, here is what I am going to do.

I am going to respect the rules; kids have to be at least 13 to be on social media. I know this isn’t really an enforceable rule and that loads of kids under 13 are using social media – but it is something I am going to choose to hold on to over here. They have to be 13.

When we venture into this territory, we will do it together. It will be a shared experience. We will ease in. Passwords will be known, and random monitoring will take place. This is a great out for our kids, “hey, don’t post that stuff on my page cuz my mom sometimes shows up…” Then they can talk about how lame I am – no problem.

I will be their friend, I will be their follower, I will be around. For a while. We will continue to talk and use this new territory as a tool for connection and digging into life lessons (I can already see the 12 year old eye roll) – it’s true though! When I look at it from this angle, I see an opportunity…

We all need to make the choices that are right for our family, that fit with our values. You have just spent some time in my inner dialogue around this issue. I hope to have shared something for you to take away. This is new… I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are navigating this with your child in the comments below.

Happy parenting, Casey

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Casey is a wife, mother, Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and life coach. She has a BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona, and earned a M.Ed from the University of Washington. She teaches teachers and parents all about how to build stronger, more authentic relationships with the children in their lives. Casey blogs and teaches parenting classes at Joyful Courage.

Latest posts by Casey O'Roarty, M.Ed. (see all)

One Response to Social Media + Tweens: Why we’re taking it slow…

  1. Bravo, Casey! You didn’t act out of fear. You thought through what you want in the end, and then created the steps that will get you there. Because you have a clear picture of how you want your children to be in the world, you will be able to set limits, consequences if necessary, and support them as they move through the world of technology. There will be conversations before you hand over any piece of technology. And I’m betting that from day 1 your children won’t be sleeping with a phone under their pillow. You will grow exactly the type of young adult you are hoping to grow, one who will understand the benefits and limits of technology, not one who will be ruled by it. And most of all, this is what is right for your family today. Congratulations!

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