Oh boy. I sure wasn’t ready for this, and I know this is something that so many parents are going through now in this digital age. As someone who blogs and is submerged into the life of social media, you think something like this would be a no brainer.
My oldest is 11 and in the 6th grade. He is in middle school and has entered the realm of popularity, fitting in, finding your place, and being comfortable with new friends. I always say 6th grade is tough because it’s when people start expecting more, you need to be more independent, and the responsibility falls on you.
Look, I totally get it. Instagram is the thing for all these tween and teens. Even though you technically can’t have an Instagram until you are 13, the fact that “all my friends have one” is still ringing true. You don’t want to be the only one left out and you want to try and impress your friends. It’s a tough age.
Before I made my decision of whether he could have one, I created a list of the pro’s and con’s, and reasons why I would say Yes or why I would say No. Here’s what I came up with:
Why I’d say Yes:
- I don’t want him to be the one left out
- I’d like for him to stay up to date with technology and the trends
- I can monitor it to make sure he is staying safe and appropriate
- It gives him another connection to his friends and the world around him
Why I’d say No:
- It gives him access to things that he is not necessarily ready for/or able to understand just yet
- It becomes another thing I have to monitor and check on his phone
- It opens him up for bullying/to bully (even though he’s a great kid)
- Gives other people access to him
- Creates another time suck out of his day (browsing on instagram, posting)
Here’s the bottom line. I quickly said No. Being 11, I don’t want him to have access to things that he may not fully comprehend yet (like hashtags like cutting and suicide) and I’d like to give him more time to become his own person, figure out his beliefs, and begin to get an understanding of what he stands for before he is thrown into the busy (and fake) world of Social Media.
Another big thing for me is knowing how much time Facebook and Instagram take out of my own day, the last thing I want is for my son to be in his room wasting hours liking photos or trying to figure out what to post and searching away. He plays competitive soccer and he needs to focus on that, school, football next year, and any other of bigger dreams.
He has a phone. He can text and call his friends, and send pictures to them as much as they want, but I have 4 kids. If I feel like I have to monitor his Instagram carefully (which is what I would have to do) then I don’t need ANOTHER thing that I have to constantly check and filter and search. Again, I’d rather them be ready, hanging out with friends, practicing sports, etc.
I’m not naive. I’m not trying to shelter him from anything or think that he eventually won’t find out these things soon enough. What I would like him to do, and for me to do as a parent, is build up his confidence, his skills, his belief system before he is thrown out in the real world. I also don’t want to give him and others an avenue to potentially bully my son or put him in that type of position as well. I want to make sure he is strong and secure enough in himself, or at least on that path, before I put him in a network where anyone can pretend to be anyone at any given time.
I’m a pretty lucky mom. He took it well. I told him I’d also be watching him and looking for signs for when I feel like he would be ready for social media. With that comes responsibility and respect for yourself and for others.
If your tween has an instagram and it works for you, that is awesome. I just wanted to write about what would or wouldn’t work for my family, so please do not take any offense.