A few months ago, my youngest daughter who is 12 started begging my wife and I to get on SnapChat (now Snap) because all of her friends were on it. Big sigh. We had already been through this two times before with her older sisters but it seemed like every year the age when this was requested was younger and younger. The “you have to be 13 to join” excuse didn’t work. All of her friends were under 13. We had preached our usual “social media can be dangerous when you are young” but it fell on deaf ears and a mound of rebuttals. After several weeks, she was truly wearing us down (shhh, don’t tell her). So my wife decided that if our daughter were to get Snap, she would have to write a contract which would need to have a list of CONSEQUENCES if we caught her “violating the rules.” And she would have to sign it. Queue the link/click bait…you won’t believe what happened next! (Haha)
Well, she wrote out the contract and all of her own, decided-upon consequences. She signed it. But then after just an hour after the ink dried, she rescinded her own contract, claiming it was too harsh and she would rather wait. Chalk up a minor victory to my wife here!
There are several reasons why I tell this story. For one, I try to write about kids, parenting and social media a lot. I have a living classroom (or laboratory) for all of this stuff. I’m no expert on any of this (my wife is far more attuned to all aspects of parenting and social media than I am). But I do try to boil down things that work (at least for us) and share it. My primary advice is always – have a conversation WITH your kids, don’t just dictate AT them. And while I have written some negative and positive content about social media and kids, this is the Wild West folks. The rules are still being invented! I’ve even written some Social Media Policies for Families.