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Dear Dharma,

I’ve asked a lot of other parents about my issue but I am getting such mixed answers. I really enjoy your blog and love your advice. Thought it wouldn’t hurt to get your opinion on this matter too!

My kids are starting to reach the age where they want to be on social media. I have been dreading this moment as I don’t even want them on there. They are only 12 years old. I didn’t grow up with all this social media around and don’t believe that young teens should be on it. My kids keep saying that all their friends are already on it and they are the odd ones out.

There is just so much on the internet that I don’t want my children to be exposed to at such a young age. Teenagers are prone to bullying, having body image issues, etc. and I don’t think social media helps matters.

How do I control their access to social media? I have always been very open with my children and this is just something I am really struggling with.

Tweeting Tweens

Dear Tweeting Tweens,

Clearly you and I are from the same era.

My version of Tweeting, especially when I was grounded, consisted of hand written notes jammed into cassette cases.  I’d throw them off my balcony and the one friend who had a car would come by, pick up the goods and then drive around delivering notes for me.  He’d have to do double duty if any of my friends wanted to respond via the same method of communication.

I’m not even kidding.

Of course you’re going to get mixed advice if you are polling other parents, which isn’t a bad thing.  The more input you get, the better you are able to formulate a strategy that works for your family.

And make no mistake, a strategy is indeed required here.  Giving your kids free access to social media at 12 years old is like giving them a key to a ramped up version of Pandora’s Box, right?

Do your research.  Do a lot of it.  Start here – this is an excellent article giving you lots of reasons to stick to your guns and hold back access for as long as possible.

An important side note – legally, you have to be 13 years or older to even open a Facebook account.

Don’t give in to second hand peer pressure.  Just because all their friends are doing it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing – use the old “If Suzy jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?” line of reasoning from the good old days.

You can still continue to be open with your kids, and you should, especially when it comes to explaining your final decision.  “Because I said so!” isn’t as effective as it was in our time.  Kids seem savvier these days; they’ll push back hard on that kind of lame reasoning.

Good luck with this!

Dharma

 

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