I keep telling anyone who will listen that social media is not for kids. No one without a fully developed sense of purpose and self should be on social media. Kids clearly fit that definition. They are still figuring out who they are, what they like, and how the world sees them. They don’t need social media fakery influencing this crucial stage of development. But no one listens to me (including my dog) and tons of kids are on social media. Recently, a major blow hit a Little League softball team that may have some parents rethinking their stance on it.
The Atlee Junior softball team from Virginia was disqualified from their championship game because of an ill-advised Snapchat of team members flipping the bird to their competitors. Even though the girls deleted the post as soon as the coach got wind of it, Little League decided it was too little too late and said it violated their code of good sportsmanship.
Little League spokesman Kevin Fountain called the post “inappropriate” in a statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, explaining that it violated the league’s “policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct.”
These are the kinds of things that can happen when kids have access to social media. They do not have the maturity or wisdom to handle such a daunting responsibility as managing their online reputation. It’s hard enough for adults to do, but children seem to have no concept of things staying online forever. This is why they can so easily be talked into sending naked pictures of themselves online because they have no concept of “forever” or what that can mean to their life going forward. Now, instead of having a Little League championship to put on their resumes, the girls of the Atlee Junior softball team have ugly news stories to show colleges instead. And that will be around forever.
Protect your kids from social media by not allowing any of it. They aren’t ready, they aren’t able to use it responsibly, and none of the socials are meant for or good for children. The parents of these girls should share in the shame of what was done by the mere fact that they allowed their kids to have Snapchat accounts. Snapchat is a notorious app for child pornography, where users are told that the photos they send self-destruct after being sent. This turned out to be a lie when Snapchat was caught housing all the images on the app and on the device itself. Nothing is secure. Photos are forever. Pound this into the heads of your children. I shudder to think what I would be dealing with today if social media existed when I was in college. Luckily, there’s no photographic evidence and so as far as you’re concerned, I was a model student and responsible teen.
It’s better to be thought of as an overprotective parent than to let something like this happen that could follow your kid for the rest of her life. While this photo may not be a career killer, there are plenty of other teens who have sent far more damning stuff on these apps that will keep them from being gainfully employed. Don’t let youthful indiscretions be recorded for all of your child’s life. Just keep them off social media until they are adults paying for their own phone bills. (That’s my rule. When you can pay for it, you can have it.) By that time I hope they will have learned discretion and restraint.
I have much respect for Little League management for standing up for decorum and enforcing rules. Maybe this misstep will save others the heartache.