I remember long discussions with my daughter when she was a pre-teen.
She asked for a Facebook account. We held firm to the legalities of Facebook:
you cannot have an account unless you are 13 years of age.
In the end, she was grateful we said no, repeatedly.
Her girlfriends were bullied using their Facebook accounts, and by the time
our daughter did reach 13, she didn't want one anymore.
Here is an article from Melanie Hempe, RN, that summarizes some reasons why:
Why Social Media is NOT Smart for Middle School Kids
[I'm going to cut straight to the reasons she lists. Note that these reasons do not encompass all the complexities of a child with TS+, but are a benchmark to consider as a parent.]
Because the midbrain is reorganizing itself and risk-taking is high and impulse control is low, I can’t imagine a worse time in a child’s life to have access to social media than middle school. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Social media was not designed for kids. Their underdeveloped frontal cortex can’t manage the distraction nor the temptations that come with social media use. While you start teaching responsible use of tech now, know that you will not be able to teach the maturity that social media requires. Like trying to make clothes fit that are way too big, they WILL use social media inappropriately until they are older and it fits them better.
2. Social media is an entertainment technology. It does not make your child smarter, more prepared for real life or a future job, nor is it necessary for healthy social development. It is pure entertainment attached to a genius marketing platform that is extracting bits and pieces of personal information and preferences from your child every time they use it, not to mention hours of their time and attention.
3. The tween “more is better” mentality is a dangerous habit on social media. Do they really have 1,456 friends? Do they really need to be on it 9 hours a day? Social media allows (and encourages) them to overdo their friend connections like they tend to overdo other things in their lives.
Social media is a very addictive form of screen entertainment. And, like video game addiction, early use can set up future addiction patterns and habits.
4. Social media easily replaces learning the hard social "work" of dealing face to face with peers, a skill that they will need to practice to be successful in real life.
5. Social media can cause teens to lose connection from their family and view “friends” as their foundation. Since the cognitive brain is still being formed, the need for your teen to be attached to your family is just as important now as when they were younger. Make sure that attachment is strong. While they need attachments to their friends, they need healthy family attachment more.
6. Social media is a really big waste of time and lost potential for teens. While one can argue that there are certain benefits of social media for teens, the costs are very high during the teen years when their brain development is operating at peak performance for learning new things. It is easy for teens to waste too much of their time and too much of their brain in a digital world. We know from many studies that is nearly impossible for them to balance it all.