I’ve got 99 parenting problems: TikTok and Snapchat are one

I try to live my life without any regrets.

If I have one parenting regret, however, it’s that I let our fourth-grader get on TikTok and Snapchat because “all her friends” were on the sites and she begged desperately to be able to join them.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t allow access to either of those platforms until 8th grade or later.

It’s true that many of her friends got access even before Journey did – but not all of them. I should have held firm with that small handful of parents who said no.

Yes, TikTok is “where trends happen” and it’s fun to see which hot video is going to pop off next.

Yes, Snapchat is a fun way to chat and message with friends – the creative filters can be a blast.

But access to these two social media platforms has exposed our child to many adult concepts, words, songs, clothing choices and bad choices.

There are countless negative influences on these sites and I’m not just talking about the potential to see p0rn.

I’m talking about kids hearing and learning songs that have completely inappropriate lyrics. I’m talking about kids doing dance moves that are way too risque and mature for them. And, most of all, I’m talking about total immersion in an overall teen and college-age culture that is not something a grade-schooler (or even early middle-schooler) should have access to.

If I could, I would cut off Journey’s access to these platforms completely – but it’s really hard to do that now when she has had access for several years already. It seems unfair to take away something she loves. I’m not trying to punish my child – and taking her favorite sites away at this point feels like punishment.

That’s why I’m writing this post. If you haven’t yet allowed your child to have access to these two sites, I encourage you to consider waiting for another year or two – or more. You will get a ton of pressure from your child, but hold strong. They are only little kids once – let them enjoy it a short while longer!

We started out using the sites together to make fun videos. For a long time, Journey was only allowed supervised use of Snapchat and Tiktok on my phone. Then, she began asking me to take my phone to another room and watch or make videos. I still have the ability to monitor her content and profiles, of course, but I wasn’t looking over her shoulder as closely anymore.

Then, just in time for fifth grade, Journey got her own phone. We locked down access to these and all other social sites, but we did start allowing her to have access for an hour or two daily as a reward for good behavior. Some days, she begged for and got even more time on these favorite apps.

Little by little, I started noticing the influence of Tiktok especially. Some of it wasn’t bad – like learning new make-up techniques or DIY tricks. But there definitely were negative things that Journey picked up from the videos on these sites – like wanting to dress inappropriately for her age or getting the mistaken idea that homemade stick-and-poke tattoos are somehow cool.

We were like frogs in a pot where the temperature is turned up slowly over time; I didn’t realize we needed to jump out until it was already pretty darn hot.

I also noticed that Journey became far less likely to make her own videos – instead, over time she simply consumed the videos made by others. That is honestly my main issue with these sites.

If TikTok and Snapchat are being used as a forum for creativity and my child is making her own content, that’s one thing. But I am not a fan of Journey’s mind being filled with visuals and ideas made by random strangers who clearly don’t have a child’s heart, mind or best interests as their focus.

If you wouldn’t let your kiddo have free access to the Internet and all its dark corners, and if you keep an eye on the TV shows and movies your child consumes, then you certainly will not want to let your kids have free access to social media sites – especially video sites like Snapchat and Tiktok. The short-form video content is enticing, addictive and ranges from PG to NC-17.

Even if you plan to allow only short spurts of supervised access, like we did at first, just know that your child will want more and more time on the sites until it becomes a daily battleground. I truly feel it would have been easier – and likely better for Journey – if we had just said no from the start.

There’s plenty of time for teens to dabble in social media. Why start when kiddos are still in grade school or even early middle school? The Wait Until 8th site has great information about why it makes sense to wait.

I truly wish that we had.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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