Why My Kids Don’t Have Social Media

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My kids don’t have social media and I’m ready to talk about why.

Now first of all, let me get something out of the way. This is a zero judgment post. You go ahead and raise your kids the way you want to and I’ll do the same. I do, however, look around and find myself in the minority these days and sometimes, it can feel a little lonely. You can start to question yourself, and think maybe you’re crazy or there’s something wrong with you if you don’t let your kids have their own phone and social media. It’s isolating, at times, to be one of the only ones who is making a certain decision when everyone else does things a different way. And that is why I write this post. I write this post for the mom who is struggling to hold onto what she feels is right for her family amidst constant pressure to conform. I write this post for the mom who feels completely overwhelmed by the thought of trying to manage all her kids cell phones and social media accounts. I write this post for the mom who is being badgered without cease by her teenager, or her kid’s friends, or even other moms, perhaps. You’re too overprotective. I’m the only one who doesn’t have a phone. I’m the only one who doesn’t have snapchat. You’re so mean. But I’m always missing out. I don’t have any friends. I never know what’s going on. I don’t get invited to things. You’re a terrible mother. You’re a mean mom.

I write this blog for those other women out there, like me, who have decided that social media isn’t right for their family. I write this to say one thing — You are not alone. 

I had a happy childhood.  It wasn’t perfect; no one’s is. But it was happy.

Being a bit of a tomboy, I loved to climb trees.  My best friends and I spent hours in the woods behind our house making “forts.”  I played kick the can with the neighborhood crew and fished for crawdads in the stream by our house.  Most of my favorite childhood memories, were made in two ways:

  1. Being outside.
  2. Being with people.

 

Lately I’ve been thinking about this generation of children that we are raising. How will they answer the question—what were your favorite memories of childhood? I seriously doubt any of them will say—Man I really love how I sat around with my phone in my face and had little to no outside time or interaction with other people.

No, they won’t say that because the truth is, having an electronic device in front of your face creates no lasting memories and no lasting relationships. Yet so many of today’s youth are wasting their childhood in front of electronics. I look at our generation of children and youth and I see children who are struggling with executive functioning skills. I see children who don’t know how to look an adult or another human being in the eye when they are asked a question. I see children who don’t know how to advocate for themselves because they’re afraid of a face to face conversation. I see young men who don’t know how to properly treat a woman—not knowing how to pick up the phone, ask a girl on a date, go to her front door and speak to her father, and be a man. I see girls who think it’s ok to obsessively text a boy. I see children who don’t know how to sit through a meal with their family without a cell phone shoved in their face. And the truth is, I guess I just miss the good old days.

Call me old fashioned, but I miss the days of playing kick the can with all the neighborhood kids until way after dark. I miss fishing for crawdads in the stream by our house. I miss building forts and spending hours playing in the woods behind our house. I miss the days when a guy asked a girl out by picking the phone up and calling, then walked to the door to meet her dad face to face. Sure, there were some inconveniences. We couldn’t pick up our phone and get directions without a map. We couldn’t order pizza from an app. We couldn’t text someone and tell them where to meet us. We couldn’t get the news without a newspaper. We couldn’t read a book without going to the store and buying it. But there was also a beauty to the simplicity of just not knowing every single thing. When you were at home with your family, you were at home with your family. If you didn’t get invited to that sleepover, you didn’t even know and you definitely didn’t have to be inundated with pictures and videos and snapchats of how much fun everyone was having without you. You didn’t need to know that Billy was hanging out with Jennifer. You didn’t have to read that derogatory comment about your appearance. Sometimes — you know what — ignorance is bliss, especially when you’re growing up and just trying to put one foot in front of the other and figure out who the heck you are.

The truth is, social media has power, both for good, and for bad. I have a career that is largely based on social media and an instagram account that drives 90 percent of my business for our print shop and our remodel/construction projects. Trust me, I know the power of social media. But I think it’s time for us all, as parents, to be real about this fact: Social media and electronics can be just as powerful in a negative way.

Somewhere — at this very moment — because of social media, there is a little girl at home crying herself to sleep because she didn’t get invited to that sleepover. There is a boy who thinks he isn’t good enough at sports and feels like a loser. There is a mom who is defeated because she can’t have Suzie’s body while simultaneously juggling four kids and a job, all while having a spotless house and being the next Barefoot Contessa in the Kitchen. There is a dad who questions his role as a father and husband, constantly feeling inadequate because he doesn’t measure up to John who just got his fourth promotion at work and is also super dad. Somewhere, there is a girl, or a boy — with their whole life ahead of them — who is thinking about ending their life because of something they saw on social media. Because they feel different, because they feel not accepted. That’s the cold hard truth right there.

So, if it makes me overprotective to want to spare my children that pain, then so be it. I know they will have to face it some day, but I will choose when that day is. It’s not an age at our house, it’s a maturity level. I won’t put that device in their hand until I think they have developed a strong sense of self. I won’t put that device in their hand until I think they know who they want to be not some shell of a person who is constantly trying to be someone else’s version of cool that is represented on a social newsfeed. I won’t put that device in their hand until I think they are old enough to understand the consequences of posting a picture that can never be unseen. I won’t put that device in their hand until I think they are confident in who they are. I won’t put that device in their hand until I think they are ready to handle everything that comes along with it — the positives and the negatives.

We have four children living with us — ages 14, 12, 10, and 8. None of them have a phone right now and no one has social media. Well, my twelve year old son has a music.ly account that I think he rarely touches. But no phones, no snapchat, no instagram, no iPads (unless it’s on a long car ride and we get it out), and no facebook.

No we aren’t the norm, but you know what we are? Happy.

You see, I realized a year or so ago, that we are a happier family without electronics and social media. I’m a happier mother when I don’t have to constantly monitor twenty different devices and text chains and social media accounts. You guys, I’m just trying to make it to the grocery store once a week and get the laundry done. I’m not super woman for God’s sake. There is no way can I monitor all those devices and also keep everyone alive. So, we just don’t do it. And you know what I’ve noticed? We are happier because of it. My 8 year old son throws fewer fits when he doesn’t have electronics. My ten year old daughter is less dramatic. My twelve year old has a better attitude, and my 14 year old niece who lives with us — she smiles far more than she ever did now that she has no electronics.

So why don’t my kids have social media? For two reasons —

  1. Because they’re happier without it and so am I.
  2. Because I believe they have a better shot at figuring out who they are in this world, when they aren’t constantly obsessing about looking at everyone else’s lives on a newsfeed.

To any of you other mommas who are reading this who are on the fence, YOU DO YOU. Do what’s right for your family. And if no social media is right for you, know that you aren’t the only mean momma out there.

CC’s a mean momma too. I guess I’ll keep them innocent and little as long as I can.

You can follow CC and Mike on Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook or subscribe to our email list for updates.  Carissa’s book – Magnetic – will be coming soon, early fall 2017.  You can read more about the story here.

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17 Comments
  • Annie Bilby
    Posted at 15:58h, 31 May Reply

    YES, YES, YES!!!!!! I’m a mean mom, too and proud of it!!!!! Stay strong! It’s worth it! Oh, and kick the can is still one of my favorite childhood games and memories!!!!!!

  • Ann Martin
    Posted at 16:56h, 31 May Reply

    Perfectly said and beautifully written, CC! I agree 100%. Thank you for sharing!!!:-)

  • Lisa
    Posted at 17:54h, 31 May Reply

    I love this!! While our 12yo does have a phone, it is used for the phone. He golfs and it was important to us for him to have a way to contact us if needed. It provided a way to have freedom to play rounds with friends without us on the course with him. But that’s it, no instagram, no facebook, no snapchat or whatever else is popular this week. Childhood is tough enough these days & passes in a blink without being head down on the interwebs!

  • Shelly weston
    Posted at 19:21h, 31 May Reply

    Wow I love this and so so true

  • Lou craig
    Posted at 20:31h, 31 May Reply

    Thank you! Truthfully written! They are only young for so long! The judgement and comparisons through social media should not make up who they become. Let them be kids!

  • Disenchanted
    Posted at 21:13h, 31 May Reply

    That is exactly why I (a 45-year old woman) gave up all social media 8 years ago. Its so fake. I cant stand how so many people have FB, but claim they are “never on it”. It actually makes me so said that this is the new normal. A world full of fake, superficial, jealous people who hide behind a facade of being perfect. Ick

  • Anna Rath
    Posted at 12:39h, 01 June Reply

    Thank you for this post! I feel the same as you. My girls aren’t even asking for a phone yet but the day will come. Knowing I’m not alone will kee me strong. You should start a FB group for fellow mean parents so we can support each other.

    • Brooke Shannon
      Posted at 07:38h, 02 June Reply

      Check out the Wait Until 8th pledge on FB and at http://www.waituntil8th.org ! The Wait Until 8th pledge empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until AT LEAST 8th grade. By banding together, this decreases the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone. There are many reasons to wait! Childhood is too short to waste on a smartphone. Take the pledge and spread the word in your community at http://www.waituntil8th.org .

  • Maddy
    Posted at 15:20h, 01 June Reply

    Lovely article! This needs to shared widely. My son is very young, but I have been thinking about this a LOT. We haven’t used the phone or any electronics for entertaining him EVER and don’t plan to start anytime soon. I have, however, been hearing that as early as middle school, study groups use WhatsApp to schedule sessions and share notes. Is this true? Does the school require kids to have access to WhatsApp or Facebook for academic use?

  • Brooke Shannon
    Posted at 07:35h, 02 June Reply

    Completely agree! Several other like-minded parents and I started the Wait Until 8th Pledge to help parents link arms on this issue. The Wait Until 8th pledge empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until AT LEAST 8th grade. By banding together, this decreases the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone. Believe it or not, some kiddos as young as kinder and 1st grade have iPhone 7s already!

    Smartphones are distracting, dangerous and detrimental for children yet are widespread in elementary and middle school because of unrealistic social pressure and expectations to have one. There are so many reasons to wait. Childhood is too short to waste on smartphones. Learn more at http://www.waituntil8th.org and get the latest news on the issue @waituntil8th on Facebook.

  • Alex A.
    Posted at 10:41h, 02 June Reply

    “having an electronic device in front of your face creates no lasting memories and no lasting relationships.” Is a false foundational premise for the decision. I’m not judging her decision as bad or good. I’m just pointing out from personal experience, and experience of others I know, that it is false.

    What she’s describing is not having a personal experience or comprehension of how someone could. I can certainly agree that waiting and limiting access till they’re at least 16 maybe, is totally a great idea. However, young people also need to learn to live in the world they’re growing into. There are also real social, and educational opportunities that are simply being ignored for the one she prefers.

    Teaching young people how to use devices and online resources responsibly and how to manage their time responsibly is an important lesson also. I believe in the all things in moderation approach to much of life, and I think there is value in having balanced managed access while young and learning to function. All or nothing parenting tends to also lead to adulthood addiction and malfunction.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 11:14h, 02 June Reply

      I couldn’t agree with you more that teaching children to use devices responsibly is important. I assure you my children know how to live in the world and are very well adjusted. They go to a huge public school system where they use chrome books in middle school. I am very active on social media for my job and they are allowed to use my Snapchat and instagram with my supervision and they are constantly around friends who also have phones and social media. We just don’t feel they are mature enough or developed enough to be cut loose, so we’ve decided they won’t have their own social media counts YET. I’m sure they will by high school age or maybe earlier before they get those privileges, but that doesn’t mean they are completely cut off from technology because they aren’t. Like I said, I know our choices aren’t for everyone and to each their own. We are just two parents trying to do the best we can for our children and we feel this is the best choice for our family.

  • Allyson Howard
    Posted at 20:49h, 04 June Reply

    I think about this a lot, even though my son is still very young and years away from having a phone. My plan at this point, is to allow him to have a basic phone – without smartphone capabilities. That way, he can reach us if he needs to, call his friends/family, perhaps text, but no apps. There’s just no way we’d ever be able to keep up with them – not just the ones we know about (facebook, instagram, etc) but the apps that are created every day that kids can sign up for without their parents ever finding out about. While we won’t be going through this for many more years, I’m happy to see that we’re not the only parents out there that hope to limit our children’s exposure to social media until they are ready for it.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Ashley Allen
    Posted at 15:09h, 14 June Reply

    Cc you could not have written this at a better time…. I have been pressured since practically birth about my daughter being allowed to have a phone by what seemed like everyone but mostly family (husband included)! My thoughts on the issue have always been like yours. So as she approached her 10th birthday the pressure became more and more intense and I caved… Christmas 2016 she was given a phone and last Thursday something absolutely terrifying happened and all of the reasons I felt that way smacked me right in the face. The phone is now gone for what I believe will be a very long time but the fact of the matter is they just aren’t ready for that kind of responsibility at such a young age and you have no idea how your child will behave or what they will choose when faced with certain situations, and I’m just not willing to gamble with that again until I know she is capable of making decisions that won’t completely ruin her life or endanger it… Thank you so much for this and keep being the mean momma because I and many others are right there with you!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 20:13h, 14 June Reply

      Trust your instincts momma! Stay strong! And we’ve all been there when we’ve caved and then regretted it. Forgive yourself and like I say to my kids – the only real mistake is the one you don’t learn from and keep repeating. Learn from it and grow but forgive yourself!!!

  • Amy King
    Posted at 19:37h, 14 June Reply

    Very well said. Its exactly the same thoughts I have about all electronics. Thanks for sharing your heart…I know its not easy! Keep up the awesome work!!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 20:11h, 14 June Reply

      Thank you so much Amy! Means so much to me that you took the time to read it.

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