In our new series Connecting with Parents, we’re hosting roundtable discussions on parenting topics. For our first conversation, we sat down with three parents at BreadsNBakes in Pound Ridge to discuss social media. Below is an excerpt from our hour-and-a-half conversation.
Jane Bendor – Goldens Bridge parent of boys ages 11 and 8
Melinda Canno-Velez – Pound Ridge parent of girls ages 25 and 22, and boys ages 20 and 15
Mike Ransom – Mount Kisco parent of a 15-year-old boy, triplet girls age 12 and an 11-year-old girl
Katonah Connect: How old were your children when you allowed them to have their first social media account?
Mike: My kids got on social media around 10 or 11 years old. My son got on social media when he got his phone, even though we didn’t want him on social media. He was mostly on Instagram and Facebook because a lot of the family is on Facebook. It got to the point where I just had to monitor him because the girls would walk by and listen. I allowed them to get on social media when they were around 10 years old, and their first experience with social media was TikTok.
Melinda: They all got phones as their fifth grade graduation present. There was less social media for my 25 year old than my 15 year old. I don’t monitor their accounts, but I always keep an eye out. I try to give them some freedom, and then I reel them back in if I see a reason to be concerned. My son is very open with me, and he really isn’t that interested in social media – he’s more interested in gaming. But he does go on Instagram and Snapchat.
Jane: My 11 year old does not have a phone. We’ve been more restrictive with our kids, even with screen time. My older son got an iPad when he was 10, but we told him that it’s our iPad, and we’ll give it to him for a certain amount of time. He’s not that interested in things like TikTok, but he does watch videos on YouTube. We don’t allow him to have accounts. We’re just not there yet. We’re not ready to hand that world over to him because we’re scared of that world. You just don’t know what’s out there.
Mike: Yeah, it’s hard. One of the challenges that we’ve had is that my girls are a little bit more mature than my son. But because he’s the oldest, he gets a lot of the things first. The girls have some of the same access, but they’re more mature, and they can handle it, with the exception of my youngest. I keep it away from her because I don’t think she has the same judgment as the other girls, and I don’t think she would use it well. But there are social pressures.
Jane: That’s like one of the big challenges because you want to give them stuff, make them happy and not be ostracized by other kids, but at the same time, you still want to have control. Because once you hand it over, it can lead to anything. It’s not like putting them in front of a television, where they can watch a half-hour show. Even when adults get on their phones, you start looking at one thing, and that leads you to something else. And suddenly so much time has gone by.
Mike: I deleted the Facebook app on my phone because of that.
Melinda: Me too. I really want my kids to watch “The Social Dilemma” because it really explains all of this to a T. The same guy that makes the algorithm says he leaves his phone in the car so he can pay attention to his family. He’s so addicted. The day after I watched it, I deleted my Facebook account.
Mike: I can actually feel my anxiety level rising as I’m scrolling. After a while, I feel like I can’t breathe as well, and I’m always trying to stop, but there’s something that compels me to keep scrolling. They say it can be addicting – it’s the same type of thing that keeps people in the casinos for 10 hours a day.
Melinda: The movie talks about that. And for kids, getting “likes” increases their dopamine, so they’ll get all dressed up before taking a picture. Or they’ll delete pictures that don’t get enough likes.