JUST SAY NO - GETTING YOUNG KIDS OFF SOCIAL MEDIA

This was posted by me on 9 October 2017 on Facebook. Part two is below it.

For parents with kids on social media. 

I wanted to share this as I think it's important to talk about experiences (good and bad) in this evermore complicated and bewildering world of social technology platforms.

Our 12 year old is no longer on social media, namely Instagram and Snapchat (I'm not going into specifics as to why). 

Believe me, banning social media for a 12 year old is like taking heroin from an addict.

I kid you not.

They call it 'digital amputation'. And it's scary to go through.

Naively, I thought we were monitoring her adequately when it came to her using it. I was wrong. 

To a young girl, the likes of Instagram, as we abruptly discovered, are poison. Kids her age simply can't process it. Ask any teacher, they'll tell you; most wish phones at schools were forbidden altogether. Methinks in time there will be heavier regulations around this.

Anyway, so the last week before the school holidays it went.

Tears. Negotiating. Pleads. Begging. Yelling. More tears. 

Through all this chaos you question yourself - a million times - but as dramatic as it did elevate, as a parent you learn to stand up to the guilt trips. 

You have to stay strong, cop the bombardment and remind yourself that tears don't work.

Was awful. But we did it.

Days after she was banned from it, she became more 'social', again. Yep, it was that quick. When we talked to her, it was no longer as if we were constantly interrupting a conversation she was having with someone - which often lead to simple questions and chatting being a constant source of frustration and snapping.

She's my little girl again (Year 7 in high-school, but fuck it, she'll always be daddy's little girl, even when she's 28).

Less looking at a screen, she's now back to looking at life.

She's also sleeping better.

She learnt a lesson. And as parents, we did too.

Her room is now screen free.

Her phone (with heavy restriction settings, i.e. it's now a 'dumb phone'), goes in the phone zone straight after school, each day (that being on top of the fridge).

Homework now takes priority over hashtags.

Chores are more important than tagging.

And hugs on the couch are now the ultimate selfies together.

Fuck it, she has the rest of her adult life to be on social media. 

In hindsight it's been a blessing. 

I'm glad we've gone through this sooner than later. It's tiring, but we will keep on it.

The feelings of guilt for barring it have disappeared.

She's getting over it, and so are we.

None of us are without flaws. We all make mistakes, and that's ok. 

I've always said, parenting is like buying furniture from Ikea without instructions - at first you're lost, but in the end, with a bit of trial and error, you figure out where each piece is supposed to go.

It's still not perfect. It never will be. But it was the right thing to do.

Below was posted by me on Facebook on 21 November 2017

About 6 weeks ago I wrote about having to take Charley off social media (the drama, anger and struggle of doing so).

Thought I'd give a little update (and for the record, our reasons for taking her off it weren't based on world-ending happenings - she's a top girl, but just needed a steer in life and I'm simply sharing the story). 

Last week her year advisor took her out of class for a quiet word. 'Dad, I was shaking with fear', as she was under the impression she was in somekind of trouble. 

He simply said to her, 'Charley, I'm so impressed with you. You've made me so proud. You're doing great'.

Hell, when she told me, I almost cried - I still tear up thinking about it, and how she felt 10 feet tall afterwards.

The poison is finally out of her system. Like drinking and nightclubs, social media is there for when she's much older.

6 weeks on and she's basically a brand new kid.

She's now torn between focussing on architecture or sports science (as you can see by her own research into sports science - she has a folder and makes notes, above and beyond her normal school work).

She wasn't happy with her CAD house design for Tech Class, so asked her teacher if she could scrap it and start again - which she did (ok, Minecraft may have come in handy after all).

15 out of 20 in her last science test.

Maths is improving.

Could do with reading more, but she's getting there.

Even on the sports field with softball, she's mimicking her scholastic achievements: hitting them OUT OF THE PARK.

Look, I'm not hear to preach about the good, the bad and the ugly of social media platforms (hell, I'm writing this on one). I'm simply sharing a story that hopefully may help another parent out there who's going through similar bullshit. That's what it is: bullshit.

Oh, and she's now hanging out with different friends, who aren't glued to screens - believe me (and this is my tip of the day), having her around other kids who aren't Insta-slaves makes a HUGE difference.

One day social media will be banned for kids under 16 - I can see it coming. 

Until then, we need to keep fighting the pout and the face tune for their wellbeing, to ensure they become the best they can be. There'll always be ups and downs, but at least we're now heading in the right direction.

We couldn't be prouder.

Ps...her room still looks like a shithole, but that's ok.

 

CMR