Smartphones, social media, and parenting teens/tweens

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

I was recently part of a big parenting discussion group about whether a parent should allow her tween to have a smartphone with Snapchat. It produced a lot of stories and anecdotes and feelings and opinions, including a few tales of teens finding ways to circumventing parental controls or even picking up burner phones in order to be able to do things like keep up streaks. There were also some anecdotes of real-life consequences around location tracking, hazing, content getting shared and saved without consent, etc.

It was eye-opening and terrifying, because my kids are too young for this sort of thing today, but I’m sure the options will be even more overwhelming and difficult to manage by the time they’re this age. The social pressures in their and your peer group will influence what’s considered appropriate, regardless of any age listed for any terms of service, and there are so many things that are technically permitted but not exactly good for us in this world.

I wanted to take the time to formulate the long reply I had composed into a more publicly shareable blog post – which will likely come back to bite me in the ass! I’m sure things will shift between now and when my eldest hits iPhone age, but for now, my perspective on giving a 13yo a smartphone with Snapchat is a hard NO, and this is my reasoning why.

My daughter is already asking me for a phone for her eighth (!) birthday, and right now, it’s an easy no.

I understand that social media is obviously where all your friends are and you don’t wanna feel left out, but to me, there is no difference between using social media and using drugs or alcohol.

The thing I keep telling my kids with stuff like this (swearing, adult themes, etc.) is that it’s all about context.

There will come a time when you are able to fully understand the context of when to deploy an F-bomb.

There will come a time when I can’t shelter you from the maelstrom of crap that rains down on you from every direction on social media. I hope if you choose to engage with social media, you do so with the knowledge of both the benefits of these platforms (connectedness, sharing your life) and, more importantly, the detriments (data privacy, mental health struggles).

But yeah, for now: no phones. Sorry, gang. My number one job as a parent is to keep you safe, even if you aren’t happy with me.

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