Social Media and Our Children

By Monique Rhodes

April 2, 2022

There are some new studies out from the University of Cambridge showing that there is a difference in the age that social media affects girls and boys. I would love to know your thoughts on how to address keeping a healthy relationship with technology and your kids.

  • I appreciate your podcast about this topic. This might be a different take, but I think it is connected. Before social media, there was compelling evidence showing the negative effects of television on the brain structure of children. Verbal, physical, cognitive, and emotional development are adversely effected and brain imaging shows anatomical changes inside children’s brains after prolonged TV viewing. I had my children before social media, but it was not uncommon for parents to allow children to watch quite a bit of TV “to get a break”. With the advent of personal devices, often marketed to children, that has only increased. I see preschool as well as younger school aged children watching movies all the time on their own personal devices, and have personally observed decreases in attention, creativity, interaction with others, and kindness – which often pushes parents to offer more movies…and the cycle continues. Many cars now come equipped with individual screens where kids can watch their own shows/movies while taking a 30 minute ride to school. It is not uncommon for elementary aged children to have apple watches, and begin texting. Smart phones come very soon after. It is really just a tiny little step to social media, which opens up the additional emotional and social issues you discussed in your podcast. I believe these personal devices are the gateway to social media and each has a different but significant detrimental effect on children. While I realize it is difficult to stand apart from the “norm”, I believe it is incredibly important to do so. It is not easy, but there are so many creative resources available today to help parents.

    While our ideas are dated by today’ standards, they are a few examples of how we chose to navigate some of the same issues. We had a TV in our family room, but my kids had to earn tickets (points) which corresponded to minutes of tv. They could spend them as they chose within the boundaries we set. I think it taught them to budget, to share, to work together, to negotiate, etc. We did not allow cell phones when they were very young. As teenagers, we did not allow cell phones in their rooms at night but had them recharge in the kitchen. We did not allow them to have Facebook (which was all there was) until they were much older. We had a desktop computer in the kitchen and they got laptops when they went to College. We did not put TVs in their bedrooms – for so many reasons. They didn’t like it at the time but they have thanked us as adults.

    These choices certainly put more responsibility and work on us. Saying yes to them often meant saying no to ourselves and there were days when we were exhausted – but, we felt it was worth it. It felt like love to us.

    It is hard to be a parent and even harder to be an outlier. I get it! It is so much easier to just let children sit and view a screen. But, things that matter don’t come easy. Knowing the research, looking for creative alternatives, and keeping a long term perspective helped me. Knowledge, a few friends on the same page, and LOTS of coffee…

  • Very interesting perspective, Monique. We do have a no social media policy for our daughter. Nope. Nada. Not until she’s 18. She texts with her friends and gets on FaceTime but that is absolutely it. That seems to be enough for her. At the moment it’s working though she’s in a school that did not focus on media to begin with so that helped and I’m very grateful we had that option. For us the “like” and “filter” culture is too damaging to a young woman’s developing psyche. Check out Britney Spears Instagram feed for motivation. Obviously a lot more going on there but specifically her relationship with the camera and her mirrored self. -Rox

    • That is awesome that there is a no social media policy for your daughter. What a difference that is going to make for her.
      Can’t believe that I just went on Instagram and searched for Britney Spears…😂

    • Good for you Rox!!!
      I am amazed at how many preschools and elementary schools focus on media. I cannot understand how an Ipad is considered a good learning platform for 3 year olds in preschool. I am grateful you have another option. Way to go!

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