Sure, I bought in the narrative hook, line, and sinker.

Join this new social media, you’ll be better for it!

I got myself Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and used it for good, not evil. I found coaches I could connect to, new teachers to who helped with content, I could keep in contact with my children. Or so I thought.

My youngest daughter, she knew how to get around us when we said no Snapchat, hiding the app amongst other apps. Our other daughter made the active choice NOT to engage in this, and for good reason as she watched her sister get pulled into drama and and again and again.

Then I read this a couple of days ago:

Middle School Misfortunes Then and Now, One Teacherโ€™s Take

byย Benjamin Conlon

It’s on a site called Wait Until 8th, an organization focused on giving parents to the tools to be able to say “yes, we’ll wait until 8th grade” before purchasing smartphones for their children.

#wow

The blog post struck me in the pit of my stomach, because I could see my daughter in the story. Not only that, I DO see so many Brian’s in middle school, trying to find their way around, trying to figure themselves out, and trying NOT to look stupid. However, the Mark’s of the world, who got a smartphone, a pat on the head, and NO guidance on how to use it, are out there, trying to find the big viral video.

So, what can I do about this:

  • reduce my own social media usage. I’ve cut back on Twitter a lot just because so there are so many “you must do things this way or your kids are getting shortchanged” types. If I could do all the buzz words, do them well, I’d have no time, none for my wife, my kids, my garden, my sanity. Now, that’s not to say I won’t participate in #iaedchat (my favorite) or #moedchat (a close second) or #minecraftedu (need to get back to this one). I won’t stop posting to #edchat, #elemchat, #mschat (middle school), and a couple of other, but my offline life is more important.
  • reduce my classroom usage. Just like with my personal use, my classroom use has declined as well. I used to post a lot of pictures with my class, but the whole idea of “posting content without consent” hit home with me. I cannot decide if I’m going to keep tweeting our blogs out or not, but I know I’ll be deleting my classroom Instagram page. One less thing to worry about.
  • Advocating to wait with smartphones. This idea that the average age a student gets a smartphone is 10 is absurd. A 10 year old does not need a personal computer in their hand with zero limitation to it. No, both our daughters got their first phones a 7th grade, when they need to call for a ride, however, they were by the minute kinds of phones (and pretty cheap ones at that!), so if they did something stupid with them, oh, that’s bummer, guess you’ll need wait until next month to recharge the minutes.

Anyway, I’m ready to get off my soapbox, but this article really made me think about what social media is doing to our society as a whole, and the generation of kids coming up knowing no different. Honestly, I’m a little lonely at times in my empty nest, but we avoiding some MAJOR landmines with social media. I’m not sure how parents with young children can avoid these as our social media world continues to permeate our families.

All I can say is good luck and be strong. You are doing the right thing by having them wait as you can.