Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Social Media For You

This is going to be another one of those posts that may very well cheese someone off.  In fact, I am sure that what I am about to say may be taken personally be a few people that I happen to care about.  However, sometimes in life, and especially when you have a head full of opinions that must be shared as I do, if you aren't pissing people off occasionally, you aren't doing it right.

The topic of social media has come up quite a bit in our household lately.  The Big Girls and I have taken to playing a game together through my Facebook account.  They love it.  I love playing it with them, and even with out them occasionally.  While all that fun together may be great, what it does that isn't so great is get The Biggest One to be very aware of Facebook.  Some of her friends have their own Facebook already.  I personally find that absurd.  I have told her many times, and I absolutely mean it, she is by no means ready for social media, and she will not be for quite sometimes.
(get ready for the opinion to be heard round the world)
I do not think that young children should have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc accounts.  I think a good old email address is quite enough, and even that is a bit too much sometimes.  In addition, they should not be allowed to text, or even have a phone that is used for anything other than getting in touch with mom or dad and emergencies.
We give our kids to much access to each other.  What ever happened to good old fashioned hanging out?  What happened to real personal communication.  What about calling each other on your home phone, and talking for a while, or asking to go to some one's house, etc.  Thinking that social media and kids don't mix doesn't make me old fashioned.  I love social media.  I have a Facebook account.  I, obviously, blog.  I have a twitter account for this blog, not that I use it that well, or much, but I will admit that social media has enriched my life.  That doesn't mean i think it is appropriate for my child.  It is a little like reading a really good adult themed book.  I am reading, which is good for the mind, but just because a book is a book, that doesn't make it appropriate for every child.  You have to measure what is right for your child at each age and maturity level.  I think parents have forgotten that.  I think that parents tend to forget just how dangerous the internet can be for some reason.  Access to social media in particular I think is probably one of the most dangerous things we can let our kids do online.  Now only do we put them out there for other people to find, but we put them out there for them to embarrass or hurt them selves without realizing what they are doing.  I know I have had a moment where I have said something on Facebook or Twitter that I realized later on could be misinterpreted.  A young person will not only make that same mistake, but their lack of maturity could take that situation so much father.  They don't often understand the boundaries of what is or isn't appropriate.  I see young people, whom I love, post things all the time that they may not realize they can never take back.  Ever.  Once you put it on the net, it is there.  Not only that, but cyber bullying is a serious issue.  Why give your child a greater venue in which to be a part of that, on either side.  It happens.  We like to turn a blind eye tot that, though, and either don't care or aren't aware as parents of what all is going on.  I sincerely believe that many of the bullying deaths we have heard about would have been prevented if all parents pulled their kids back from text or internet bullying.  Can you imagine the feeling of being in your home, where you are supposed to feel safe, and being inundated with bullying via your phone, Facebook, or twitter?  It would have to be devastating to not even feel safe from people who want to hurt you in your own home like that.
So, for that and so many reasons, my kids can forget having access to much of that until they are older.  I don't care who has it and that they will be be the only ones without whatever it is they will be begging for.  They will be better off.  In addition, when they do get access, I will take the same approach that a mom and son who have been on the news lately did with a set of contractual guidelines outlining the use of social media  , smart phones, etc.  I will have access to everything, and beyond that, I will be constantly checking up on things.  I will be reading texts.  I will be checking to see if you are deleting them before I read them.  I will be on your Facebook page every day.  Believe me, I'm going to be all over it.
When the time comes, and I do realize that eventually the time will come, it will be a given as a privilege, not a right, and a privilege that in this household can be taken away at any time.