Are you on TikTok? Are you obsessed with creators who make you laugh, or offer you makeup tutorials? Have you found yourself learning dances or trying recipes dominating your FYP? That’s fine, because you are an adult. You do adult things like pay bills and drive a car and vote. You are old enough to understand the dangers of social media and you know what is appropriate and what is not. You act accordingly.
What about your kids, though? If you have teenagers, they’ve probably asked to join platforms like TikTok or Snapchat. Maybe they even want a Facebook profile or Instagram page. It’s probably OK for your 13-year-old to share snaps with their friends, and watching TikTok is fine, too. That is, if you keep your eye on it and do a little filtering. But what about their kid sister? Is it ok for your eight-year-old to be on TikTok? No, probably not.
This particular issue is currently in the news thanks to her celebrity a mom: Kim Kardashian, who recently started a TikTok page with her daughter, North. The page is filled with videos of North doing everything from dancing to giving house tours. Granted, making entertainment out of daily life is her family’s entire business. But is this really necessary to have an eight-year-old on TikTok? For me, it’s a no.
Adults understand the dangers. There is no way that this little girl has any idea what she is opening herself up to. But she’s also from a family of stars with entire security teams. Your average third grader certainly doesn’t have that kind of protection, and yet, you’re seeing children younger and younger creating profiles on social media.
Most of these platforms require you to be a minimum of 13-years-old to join, but that number seems pretty arbitrary–is your maturity that much greater at 13 than 11? Yes, I have a son who is 13, and yes, he is on Snapchat and TikTok. I begrudgingly made the decision to let him join. His friends are there and so are their parents and we all look out for each other. We follow our kids and each other’s and you better believe the second something inappropriate shows up, the texts start flying. I also have a son North’s age; there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell he’ll be touching social media for several years.
A recent study by Computers In Human Behavior agrees that young children shouldn’t be on social media. It can be hazardous to their self esteem as they can be bullied. And because, quite simply, they’re just too young to “get it.”
“These findings suggest that the industry-based age minimum of 13 for social media users may potentially be a good standard, if it can be enforced,” said study author Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., director of the Youth, Media and Wellbeing Research Lab at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). “The findings also suggest that a potential strategy to support families with children, tweens, and teens is to a) keep track of social media sites joined and online friend networks; b) set even one rule about screen use (i.e., limiting duration on school nights); and c) monitor children’s frequency of checking, particularly if they’re using social media at age 10 and younger.”
Please, let’s let our kids be kids. They grow up so fast anyway, why force it? Little kids on TikTok, no thanks.