Tis the season for holiday wishes, gifts and… the gimmies! You know: “Give me this!” “I want that!” The tug of war between letting our kids have agency and keeping their desires in check goes on all year, but it can be especially pronounced in the holiday season.
How can you get your kids off of TikTok and help them feel empowered this holiday season?
As a special educator, mom of three, and co-founder of Zigazoo, I knew that technology would be in my kids’ futures no matter how conscientiously I tried to limit their screen time and future TikTok consumption. When we created Zigazoo, a social media platform for kids, my husband and I considered what we know from the classroom and our home about how to set up guardrails so that our kids can be empowered and equipped to make healthy and successful choices in the social media world.
Here are a couple of things that we have learned along the way:
- Find safe digital spaces for your kids to run free
Your kid loves to run and feel free. You don’t lock them in a room to keep them safe, but you also don’t let them take to the street. You enroll them in track or find a nice, safe field and let them have at it. The same goes for video games, websites, and social media — right?! They can CHOOSE to be on social media, but you choose which platform. They should interact with kids in their age group, content should be moderated, and features should encourage positive, healthy behaviors (cough… Zigazoo)!
- You choose where they go online, but let them have the how
Kids can’t always choose what they get to do, but we can at least give them creative freedom to express themselves. They have to clean their rooms, but they can choose to do it in a tutu while blasting the Frozen soundtrack. They have to do their homework, but they can choose to do it under the table while cuddling with their pet lizard. Whatever floats their boat! Their generation is compelled to have a presence on social media; it is a part of the way they feel relevant and connected to their peers, and learn skills that will serve them in their future.
It is incredibly important that you choose a platform that you believe is developmentally appropriate for your child. Once you have found a safe place for them to express themselves, you can let them make choices about how they style their profile, how they create their content, and how they portray themselves. Zigazoo provides guidance for youngsters, as they take on the responsibility of making all of these “how” choices, helping them to present themselves and interact with others in positive, healthy, and truly creative ways.
This is all easier said than done, but it is good practice for us all to help reframe “I WANT THAT!” to “What do you like about that?”. “I want TikTok!” might truly mean “I want to share my creativity with my friends online.” As a parent, you can hear your kids’ voices and structure options that can make them happy AND match the values you’re working so hard to instill. You can give them a place to share their creativity with their friends online that is developmentally appropriate and teaches them to make smart choices. This way, when they are ready for adult ecosystems in the future, they will have plenty of practice making choices that are healthy for themselves and those around them.
Good luck and happy holidays!
Director of Education