Children, Family, Self-care

Year 6 Horrors: 2 Social Media

I’ve decided to document large boy’s journey through his year 6 experiences with a series of posts sharing a tongue in cheek assessment of what it’s like having a 10 or 11 year old child.

Social Media

We held out for so long. Lots of other children in large boy’s class seemed to have phones years ago. But we held out until the start of year 6, when he got a SIM only pay as you go deal with just a enough data for him to message me when he left school and so GoogleMaps could tell me where he was as he walked the mile and a half home. Then for his eleventh birthday he got his own phone with lots of data and a contract and we let him have What’sApp. No TikTok or YouTube or Instagram or whatever else. Just What’sApp while he figures out social media.

His class had a group chat with about 20 kids in it. We let him share his contact information and join the group and then held our breath. Initially, we’ve set a rule that mum and dad have the right to see any messages at any time.

At first, it was all fine. Just “hi” every morning, home work questions, and wondering whether it was non-uniform, with the odd group video call. Then over Christmas a few of the kids seemed to gain confidence and lose their filters for being kind and sensible.

So far we’ve seen ridiculous comments from other kids covering:

  • mocking someone’s relative poverty
  • suggesting that someone “goes back to Africa”
  • calling someone a “ho” to their boyfriend
  • polls for who’s the most annoying in the class, visible to the people being voted for
  • a joke about Hitler and gas chambers
  • general name-calling
  • the list goes on

A few of the disputes (usually involving the same few children unfortunately) have been so bad that they’ve affected the children at school. The head teacher has stepped in, letters and emails have come home, children have had their phones confiscated.

How has large boy reacted?

So far, amazingly! When he’s seen something inappropriate, he’s told me and himself straight away and listened to our advice. After the third or fourth incident, he left the main chat group saying that he just didn’t want to be part of what was going on. After the Hitler joke, he called out his (close) friend and told him that wasn’t OK. After the polls, he told the whole (new, smaller) group to stop as it wasn’t kind and that he’d leave if they carried on and individually messaged the people being voted “most annoying” to tell them to ignore the whole thing, and that it’s not true. Those people aren’t even his close friends.

So, so far, we’re feeling really proud of how he’s conducting himself. He’s asked for advice, listened, initially done nothing and then, when he felt it was necessary to take a stand, he’s acted in his own way. Large boy has never been afraid of going his own way, against the crowd, when he believes in something. Whether that’s being the only one of 20 Cubs to choose a different answer (and be right) or to tell his best mate they said something stupid.

I’m sure there will be times where he makes foolish choices or says something inappropriate. We’re trying to teach him that if he wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, he shouldn’t type it either, at least as an initial filter.

At the same time as all that, there’s an awful lot of faff changing the icons for chat groups, adding people, saying “hi” 20 times a day, sharing dreadful memes and using What’sApp video as a back up when Fortnite microphone’s fail.

For large boy, it’s very much “so far, so good” and we’ll take that, for now.

Pre-teen parent’s prayer

Grant me the calm to accept that their screen is their universe now, the strength of character not to loose patience, and the wisdom to help my child to stay rooted in the real world. 

Your advice?

Please, please! Share your advice on guiding a pre-teen through their first steps using social media.

Love from Smell xxx

12 thoughts on “Year 6 Horrors: 2 Social Media”

  1. Sounds like it’s going well. Only whatsapp here too – we had the same over summer of Y6 when they all got phones preparing for secondary. Some left groups, some parents removed them, and mostly (being a small group) ok. Now at secondary, he’s in his tutor group group and they’re a bit wilder. N doesn’t say much, the language is trying to be ‘gang’ and not all of it acceptable. One kid’s already asked them to calm down on behalf of another who’s mum has obviously seen something and kicked off. I think they forget that some parents will be monitoring (and they should be given some of what’s said). Thankfully N refused to be added to the year group one which was carnage and got quite a few kids in trouble with the school. I do wish N would stand up and say something at some points. He’ll do his own thing and make his own mind up, but he’s too quiet in a big group of very loud personalities to say anything. But hopefully face to face he would. I think it’s harder online, due to the potential repercussions. Whereas face to face seems to just blow up/get caught or not by teachers/is then sorted out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I particularly appreciate large boy’s resolution to just go his own way and follow his path. He’s always been like that since he was small. He doesn’t care if he’s making different choices from everyone else. But equally in a face to face crisis I think he backs away, there were a couple of playground fights last year where he ran for the staff which his mates got stuck in a dug out the kid on the receiving end.


  2. Fortunately, my children are not at this age yet. But I am not looking forward to it. It is important that we teach our children to be confident, kind and ensure that they understand they can always talk to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow – as a parent of younger children who is dreading this day, I take a lot of comfort in this post. My take away is that if you help build a strong base of empathy and kindness, they don’t lose it just because they have a phone. I’m so grateful that you shared this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s great that your son has a strong moral compass. You should be proud for instilling those values in him. He’ll need that compass to navigate the next few years. I also love that he stands up and calls people out. If no-one does that, these young people will think that type of behaviour is acceptable.

    P.S. I’m getting very frustrated with WordPress for constantly unfollowing you in the reader. I do still get the email notifications when you put up a new post so I have no idea what’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

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