Why My 8 Year Old Will Have to Wait For His YouTube Channel
Doc Smitty looks at the dangers of kids on social media
My 8 year old asks about once a week, “Dad, when can I start my YouTube channel?”
And, I’m pretty sure my freshly minted 10 year old will soon be asking about his own Twitter, Instagram or YouTube account soon. I realize this is a tricky situation. Especially since I’m the medical advisor for Digital Health at Cook Children’s and I’m active on social media.
Trust me I see the irony … or maybe the hypocrisy.
But Right now I’m planning to hold off AS.LONG.AS.I.CAN.
Because I’m a parent. I worry about my kids like everyone else and I want them to be safe and protected
I’m also a pediatrician and I talk to too many kids in my office who are dealing with the negative fall-out of social media. I also see way too many studies addressing how social media has caused harm.
Social media can lead to:
- A fear of missing out. I wasn’t cool in high school (this may shock you and if it doesn’t just stay quiet) but I really didn’t know what I was missing out on. Everyone partied on the weekend but didn’t say much to me about it on Monday. If there had been pictures and posts from the weekends, I would’ve understood how left out I probably was.
- Inappropriate expectations of appearance. We don’t look like the celebrities we follow on social media and we probably never will. Sometimes though it’s important to remember the celebrities don’t look like the celebrities when they are on social media either. They are photoshopped and edited many times. But still, our kids are left to compare themselves to people who taking professional photos or using editing software to make everything look perfect. It’s their job after all. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep many of us from feeling jealous or feeling like we’ve fallen short when we don’t.
- Bullying. Anonymous or even semi-anonymous (or “behind the screen”) empowered bullying can cause isolation and fear. And it doesn’t stop when you go home from school like it did when I was a kid/teen.
- A lack of ability to process our feelings. The constant ding of dopamine we get from the amount of likes on our posts enables us to continue posting to get our fix rather than process and dive into our sadness.
- Oversharing and shame. Teenagers and preteens don’t understand the significance of oversharing and what can happen later when those details (or pictures) get shared to a wider audience.
So what should we do as parents?
Here’s what I recommend:
- Keep your child off social media as long as possible. I know. I hear it too with my three kids. But the longer you can keep them away from it, the more time you have to talk to your kids about this issue and let them mature to handle what will inevitably come their way.
- When they get on, you get copies of their passwords and connect with their accounts. You can have privacy when you are out from under my roof. Oh man, I’m starting to sound more and more like my dad. But until then, sorry kids, I’m doing everything in my power to protect you.
- You reserve the right to delete the account and take their phone at any time. I paid for it and I can take it away.
I hope this helps. Just know I’m dealing with it too and would love to hear your thoughts. Again for irony … on social media.
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.