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regrets and why social media is *still* ruining our kids

by Shawni

** post-edit note: I don’t know who will come back to this post but I’m kicking myself I didn’t ask for what other readers would regret. Such an interesting question. If you’re late here and you want to share some regrets so the rest of us can learn from them, please share away!

Someone asked this question the other day and it was a good one so I thought I’d share:

Hi, Shawni! I have come to love your family from afar and have appreciated your blog posts over the past few years. I admire your positivity and thank you for all the fun ideas and encouragement!

My oldest child is 16 and the one question I’ve asked many of my friends with kids older than mine is: “What regrets do you have with your child/family?”

Several of my friends had kids graduate this year and I wanted to learn from them so I can maximize these final years before my kids begin to leave the nest.

One friend simply said her regret was, “the phone.” Another said she regretted letting sports rule their lives so much and that as parents we need to maintain control and not let coaches and programs dictate our kids’ lives so much.

One thing my husband and I regret is letting our 16-year-old use social media this past school year (Snapchat and Instagram). But thankfully, we had this regret with time to make some changes and so we are backtracking and eliminating these apps (which is a very hard thing to do, but that’s okay). We feel it’s absolutely worth the struggle.

Are there any regrets you’d be willing to share with us? I find this question so impactful and helpful in so many ways as I raise my own 5 children. I love to learn from the moms ahead of me.

Here is my answer:

One regret is that I had this desire for my kids to do the same things I did growing up. They worked so well for me and I just knew the same things would work for my kids. Ha!

But I really can’t say that is a “regret” because we have all learned so much from the process. We are here to guide our kids, that’s what parenthood is, and all we have to base it on is our own experiences. If I had a horrible childhood I would be working diligently to do it all differently. But I’ve loved watching my kids take their own paths and figure out things on their own, some the same as how I pictured, and others different, and it’s so cool as a parent to be able to watch this.

But my biggest “real” regret would be social media. Hands down. It’s a tricky one because Dave and I have tried to find the balance between understanding that an entire social life is based upon social media for this generation. I’m so glad we stuck it out and made Claire wait until her senior year for snapchat, but now I wish I could take it away (well, not now that she’s in college, but I sure hope she can find that balance!). There are all kinds of studies that show how teenager self-esteem plummeted when social media was introduced.

Super interesting right?

I applaud you for being willing to take on the struggle of backtracking and finding the right balance for your 16-year-old in your family.

Everyone will find a different balance, but I think we need to think long and hard about social media!

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**added thoughts after my “answer:”

Dave and I just listened to such a great segment about the effects of social media that my brother sent us and I wanted to share:

I think, when we think about social media for our kids, we must think about our own social media as well. If I have to keep reining my kids in, I better be a good example!

I love some quotes from this book I read for a “social media mom intervention” we put together a while back (link below for more about that evening, but here are some of my favorites):

May we rein in social media enough to create good patterns and real relationships, and maybe our kids will too.

Teenagers and Social Media

Our Family Social Media Pact

Why I think technology is ruining our kids

Why I think technology is ruining our kids (part 2)

What I learned from Collin Kartchner night, a Tech-Wise book club, and thoughts on a social media family pact

Other social media posts

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12 comments

Lane July 15, 2022 - 6:32 am

Could you please share your family’s Social Media Pact? The links to your Social Media Pact in your “what I learned from our Collin Kartchner night, and thoughts on a social media family pact” post are broken. You have so many good ideas and I would LOVE to create one for my own family. Thank you!

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Shawni July 19, 2022 - 12:11 am

Oh dang it! It feels like links are still breaking. I’ll see if I can get that fixed!

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Shawni July 19, 2022 - 12:19 am

Ok I fixed it, but here’s a link: https://71toes.com/2013/02/friday-q-technology-contrac/
I’ll link it in the post as well. Thank you for letting me know it was broken.

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Andrea July 15, 2022 - 11:23 am

This is huge. You should read 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain. It’s so so good and it makes you think a lot about our decisions regarding screen time, social media, etc.

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Shawni July 19, 2022 - 12:13 am

Thank you for the recommendation. I think there is also good on social media, so it’s important to find a balance, and this sounds like a good thing to help ponder that!

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Kristine Jaarsma July 15, 2022 - 12:28 pm

Please watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix!! It is eye opening. I also just heard today that TikTok comes from China where it banned from their own people.

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Shawni July 19, 2022 - 12:12 am

Yes we watched that but should watch again!

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Mary July 15, 2022 - 10:33 pm

HI Kristine: Tik Tok is not banned in China it just has a different name. More importantly, the algorithm works differently there. Videos where people (youth) are sharing math, engineering, or other quasi-academic feats are rewarded with more views, whereas in North America, the algorithm promotes and rewards silly trends like dances. Consider the longterm consequences here: one young generation (China) is encouraged by peers to strive, achieve, and progress. And the other (US) gets peer recognition for well, nothing.

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C July 15, 2022 - 11:26 pm

I loved this thought… truly it’s melting kids brains… thanks for sharing these thoughts… WOW!

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Shawni July 19, 2022 - 12:15 am

This is super interesting. I wish there was a way to change that!

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C July 15, 2022 - 11:24 pm

I love this post. Truth. I’m going to read that book, thanks for recommending it above in the comments, Andrea! I’d love to read your pact too. I love that quote about how much we miss out on by being so plugged in too… When my daughter was a young teen, she didn’t have a phone yet (she got one when 14) and she’d go to parties and said she was floored at how many kids sat there and scrolled through their phones instead of interacting. I think it’s a big issue… She has no desire to have social media. I’ve had issues with it myself and disconnected in 2016 during the election! That craziness was enough for me to not want it for years… and still, to this day, when I get on it, I can’t handle it except for short bursts of time… it’s overwhelming. And very narcissistic in some instances… some things are fun and interesting, but it also gets overwhelming with the overflow of information… too much to organize in your mind! I’m a writer and journaler and love to record. So, I love that aspect, but I find myself at night spending way too much time reading the news or catching up on mindless things online, like looking up stuff… I’m going to make a goal this school year to see how little I can be on the computer. Ha ha! Also… one thing I did when my kids were little was… we only watched TV on Fridays. It was awesome to see the kids continue to be creative during the week. I see them watching way too much TV this summer, and I think with all of the streaming platforms out there it’s easy to get sucked in and get brain fry from so many entertainment options. Kids get lazy, play video games, watch shows, and melt their brains, and lose that awesome opportunity to interact, learn to problem solve, learn to work, and learn to use their own minds to figure stuff out and be creative. I applaud this mom for getting rid of snapchat and instagram – “We feel it’s absolutely worth the struggle.” I think it’s like my sis in law when she quit smoking… she said she never realized how good stuff tasted after quitting the habit! There’s stuff out there to do, and we need a healthy balance of ingesting life without ingesting screens! I think it might help do wonders for many mental and emotional health issues too, just a guess! I need to work harder at it!

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Shawni July 19, 2022 - 12:16 am

Me too and AMEN to everything else you said!

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