Nicole Kidman has become the latest celebrity to strictly limit her children’s use of social media. The star of HBO’s Big Little Lies told Vanity Fair that she won’t allow her kids to have an Instagram account, in an attempt to maintain boundaries and to keep them grounded. Kidman says that she doesn’t regret the decision, even if it makes her “unpopular.”
Earlier this year, actress Julia Roberts told The Sun that she has done the same with her three children. “It’s interesting trying to raise kids in this day because it’s all so new — the pressures, the resources, having the world in your hand like that,” she mused. “I try to keep them off social media, because I don’t really understand what they need that for right now.”
Do the two superstars have the right idea?
In her book iGen, psychologist Jean M. Twenge cites research showing that eighth-graders who use social media are at a greater risk for developing depression than those who don’t. In fact, suicide has replaced homicide as the greatest cause of death among teenagers.
“As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another,” Twenge wrote, “and more likely to kill themselves.”
There are others, however, who feel that Kidman and Roberts might be doing their kids a disservice.
According to Laura Tierney, founder of the Social Institute, children who use social media enjoy some critical advantages, especially when it comes to building their careers. “Headlines often focus on the pitfalls of social media,” Tierney wrote in The Washington Post. “Benefits such as building relationships with friends and future employers, supporting causes, and joining movements are easy to overlook.”
Tierney contends that social media is not only a helpful tool in building a child’s future, but that many potential employers will actually expect them to use it. She cited a 2017 study by CareerBuilder in which over 2,300 hiring managers were polled, and more than half of them said that they would not interview someone they can’t find online.
That would seem to make sense, particularly if young people are aiming to secure positions at companies that live on the Internet, like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
It’s surprising, then, that so many tech moguls themselves have admitted to limiting their kids’ participation on social media. Steve Jobs famously stated that he and his wife Laurene put a limit on their children’s screen time. Jobs’ competitor Bill Gates did the same, banning his kids from bringing cell phones to the dinner table. And Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg penned an open letter to his baby girl, August, encouraging her to set aside time for real life.
“The world can be a serious place,” Zuckerberg wrote. “That’s why it’s important to make time to go outside and play.”