Last week I went to a preparing for middle school meeting as I have a daughter entering 6th grade next year (Lord help me!) There were several parent questions about cell phone usage during the meeting. I discussed my feeling about cell phone ownership here and I’m sticking with the family phone/check-out plan. But I’m just going to come right out and say that I think providing your child with gateway access to social media it’s a disaster waiting to happen. I’m sorry! I’m sure many of you won’t agree but I cannot for the life of me think of any positive that can possibly outweigh the negatives of putting a phone with access to social media in my daughter’s hands.
Girls are mean. Boys are impulsive. At 11 years old, I think (personal opinion here) both lack the brain development to fully understand the consequences of a split-second decision to post or share something and the fall out could be forever. You can delete a text and remove a post but you cannot undo the action. Maybe it’s just words. But those can’t be unheard. Maybe it’s a photo. A photo cannot be unshared. I could go on and on.
Just this week, Harvard rescinded the admission of 10 students due to inappropriate use of social media. If a kid (actually several of them) at 17, and smart enough to be admitted to Harvard, cannot make a good decision about the use of social media, how in the world can my naive, 11 year-old be expected to do the same?
And actually, if I’m being honest, I’m not all that worried about my daughter. She’s a rule follower, a drama avoider and generally unaware and uninterested in following any type of social media. I’m worried about the other kid. The mean girl stirring up trouble for the group. I’ve seen how unkind girls can be (and I know because I was a little girl once too!) If the drama is already ramping up on the playground, I don’t want a phone in my daughter’s hands where it continues or escalates on a 24 hour basis.
We were so lucky to be raised without the pressures technology brings. Middle school is already hard enough! And yes, there are some drawbacks. She cannot easily text or talk to grandparents or friends who live far away. She might miss out on some things socially. Oh well! No really, it’s ok. She can check out the family phone or borrow mine if it feels important enough. I care far too much about her long-term well being to allow it now. She’s not ready.
Some of you may think I’m being overly dramatic. I think I’m not. I think I use my phone far more than I should. I think at 41 I care more than I should about what’s going on in my digital life. And I’m working on that. If I can keep that world away from my kids a little longer I will. And I can because I’M THE PARENT and it’s my decision!!!! It always surprises me when parents say they got their child a phone because everyone else did. Do it when you think it’s right for you and your family, but for goodness sake, don’t do it because everyone else is and you feel like you don’t have a choice!
Ok, I’m off my high-horse now. I really am always interested in your feedback, even if you disagree. What are your thoughts on this divisive subject???