Frequently I've noticed people making social media accounts for their young children. Kids as young as my 5 year old are already on the fast-track to becoming social media "influencers," building their networks before riding a bike. I hope my son doesn't realize this is a "thing," because there is no way he is getting a Facebook page, Instagram account, or whatever new thing the media gods offer. It's bad enough
I'm caught up in it, so I have plenty of reasons I refuse to create personal social media accounts for my kids.
If I felt like
having social media accounts was a blessing that only enhanced my life and brought me joy, maybe I would consider allowing my children to have pages of their own. However, social media doesn't bring me joy. Instead, it distracts me, makes me anxious, and makes me feel insecure. At best, it motivates me, keeps me informed, keeps me connected to friends and family, and is a fun place to show everyone what I've been up to.
My kids, however, are too young right now to read the news, and they can check on what their friends are doing by asking them at school. Their connections don't exist beyond the ones my husband and I have created for and maintain for them, for better or for worse. At the age of 6, my son isn't
supposed to have independent relationships. So what in the world does he need his own social media page for, anyway? I have no idea, which is why it was easy to come up with more than a few reasons why I will not be making my kids any personal accounts any time soon. Because My Kids Don't Need More Screen Time
You know that song, "Swimming Pools" by Kendrick Lamar? "Sit down, drank, stand up, drank/ Pass out, drank." If you take out the word "drank" and replace it with "iPad," that's more or less how my kids are when they're not at the playground. As soon as they have the opportunity for a little down time, they would
prefer to spend it staring at their screens watching a movie, cartoon show, or playing a Peppa Pig app together.
If I were to
add social media accounts into their lives, I can only imagine how often they would want to check to see who has written to them or what new friends they've acquired (at least for my older son, as I think my youngest is too young to care). As it is, my 5 year old obsessively tracks his amazon.com packages via the amazon app on my phone. If there's an app that provides some kind of serotonin release, my children will be drawn to it. Because I Manage Too Much Already Between managing two kids' schedules, texting and coordinating with the hodgepodge of babysitters we have throughout the week, meeting writing deadlines for my editor, and managing our household, I feel like I have enough on my plate. Monitoring my kids' online profiles and making sure my kids are not being preyed on by online pedophiles are things I just do not feel like adding to the mix right now. Because My Kids Think My Phone Belongs To Them Anyway
Anything anyone might want to say (comment wise) to my children, they could say to me. Plus, both of my kids think my phone belongs to them, anyway. Siri, on my own damn phone, calls me "Julien" (my son's name), and
my 3 year old took my phone this past weekend and refused to give it back for the entirety of a car ride because he was "waiting for tests" (i.e. texts). Because Kid Social Media Accounts Are Obnoxious
If my 5 year old had his own Facebook account, not only would friends and relatives have to deal with the endless stream of pictures of him on my own feed, they would have to deal with the kinds of pictures that he would find worthy of uploading to
his feed. Those would most likely be similar to the ones that are taking up all the storage on my iPhone: a thousand pictures of his thumb, close-ups of his left nostril, a blurry picture of me standing at the kitchen counter in my pajamas mid-yell, and a picture of his iPad screen the moment he was at the high point of a Cookie Run game. Because It's Creepy When An Adult Likes Or Comments On A Kid's Social Media Account
My 5-year-old son dabbles a bit in the child-modeling world, so I've befriended a few of his new buddies from "the biz" in the past few years. A social media page for a working child actor or model that is managed by a parent is a little different from a regular social media page just for kicks, because it is ideally for professional purposes. (However, it's not different enough for me because
I will not create a page for my own little model kid.)
I enjoy seeing what the other kid models are up to, and sometimes find myself wanting to comment or "like" a particular photo. Then I remember that I'm not writing to the kid, I'm writing to his mom, and then it gets a little weird. Even if I were writing to the kid, the kid probably has no idea who I am (even if we did hang out for hours on a set together) and it is still, by all means, weird.
Because Asking People To Friend My Kids Is A Little Like Catfishing
Here is the scenario: I'm on my Facebook account right before bed (because I laugh in the face of those rules that say
screens will interrupt your sleep cycles and all that jazz) and see that I have a friend request from someone who sounds familiar. My brain is like, "Yay! Fraaandzzz!" Naturally I assume it is a long lost friend from college, or work, or maybe a new friend from one of my kids' schools and I'm just forgetting the name. So I click the accept button and forget all about it because I'm half asleep anyway.
The next day I go to check and see who my new "friend" is and, of course, that's when I find out she is my old neighbor's 6-year-old daughter. This is
what we call, "Catfishing". Now what am I supposed to do? Unfriend? That would hurt the little girl's feelings. Instead I have to deal with pictures of cute cats flooding my feed on the regs, and I am now very up-to-the-minute informed on the status of a loose tooth. (Any day now.) Because They Deserve To Be Kids For As Long As Possible
Having a social media page does not enhance one's life. It is a time suck, it is a vessel of self-judgement, and in many ways it is a virtual reality. I know that my children will
eventually have their own social media accounts (because I accept that they are children who have grown up with iPads in their little baby hands) but they do not need them now.
For now, they can look for friends in the classroom, or wherever they play, and interact with them face-to-face and use words instead of emojis. I'd like to allow them the time to build their verbal foundation before it all goes to hell and they disappear into the dark abyss of The Teenage Years, where kids only communicate via cleverly selected memes.