In our family we have rules surrounding electronics. I have barely lived in the world where my son has a cell phone, and already I realize I’ve made a mistake. Isn’t that half of what parenting is all about? Mistakes and then learning. We decided our son would have an iPhone once he was in middle school because he was riding the bus home in the afternoons. I set up his iCloud account so that I had to approve all apps before purchasing.
Our first rule surrounding social media was that our son had to remain friends with us on social media so that we could see posts, comments, etc. We set times that are to be “phone free” and rules about with whom he could correspond. Overall I thought we had our bases covered.
One of the first apps he requested was Snapchat. Now, before you think to yourself “Now you should know better” hear me out!
What I thought was an app used to take pictures with silly filters and send back and forth proved to be in my opinion, too dangerous for my middle school-aged son (and probably any aged child). You see as parents, we can track other forms of social media. Snapchat however, was founded on being anonymous. The pictures show up for varying amounts of seconds and then they are forever deleted off the phone.
For us parents and not as tech savvy people (probably one in the same in many cases!) – the pictures disappear. We have no idea with whom our kids are communicating. We have zero control over what comes up across our kids screens at any given moment. Even if we know their “friends” they are still able to correspond and follow whomever they want including people pretending to be someone they are not.
After careful consideration and a small incident that in the scheme of social media disasters was tiny, we decided it was best to delete Snapchat. Now, do I miss getting the goofy pictures from my son? Yes, but it is not worth his safety. As a parent it is my job to make sure that he is taken care of even if in this moment he probably just thought I was being mean and punishing him.
We live in the digital age which makes “do-overs” for our kids a lot harder than they were for us. A tiny mistake of clicking and/or sending something inappropriate can quickly turn into a sticky situation or even a criminal investigation.
So the #1 thing I learned through all of this is I should have done my research beforehand. Regardless of how much I trust my child, the issue is with the other people out there on the internet.