Age limits

I don’t always adhere to age limits. I let my teenager watch horror movies with me. I let my kids watch RuPaul’s Drag race, despite the sometimes sexual content and explicit language, but the thing is – I do this together with them. I make an assessment as to whether they are mature enough to handle it (my teenager concerning horror – no problem, the two youngest when they are the same age – doubtful).

But the thing is – the age limits are there for a reason, and if you as an adult let your kids do and watch things that they are too young for, that has consequences. Not only for your own kids, but for mine too.

There is a reason there is an age limit on certain parts of the media.

 

Whatsapp has an age limit of 16. Mainly because of advertisements, if I understood it correctly, but from what I’ve seen it is definitely not an app that any children under 13 should use. Children I know whose parents are convinced their child is the most conscientious one, one who would never lie to their parents, erase threads on the app because they know their parents will look through the thread and become upset.

Whatsapp is a great app to use for adults to make appointments, to keep up with each other, but it is not a good app for children! If you as an adult think your child is only using the app to find out about homework, then you are living an illusion. Kids write bad language, they scare each other with scary stories, they bully each other and say mean things about one another.

Snapchat has an age limit of 13 . People tend to think that what someone sends on snapchat disappears immediately, but that is not strictly true. You can always make a screenshot, and besides – the very fact that snapchat supposedly is fleeting, makes it the perfect instrument for bullying.

Instagram also has an age limit of 13. This might be because of advertising, but I don’t think it’s healthy for kids under the age of 13 to be so obsessed with selfies and how they look that some seem to be. This also affects the whole culture in the school your kid is at. If everyone uses filters and tries to look their best in pictures – that can be a huge problem, that spreads to the whole community. Pre-teens and teens are already sensitive to comments about their looks, so what happens when you feel the need to get likes for your selfies all the time?

Grand Theft Auto, GTA had an age limit of 18 This is a game many small children are playing, especially young boys. It teaches an atrocious worldview that is extremely sexist, and when you let your kids play it you give them allowance to use foul language, to behave badly and that seeps into your kids interactions with other children. Don’t think that it doesn’t! The kids pick up the language, they pick up the sexism and then they get a new worldview which makes them treat their fellow human beings as less than that.

 

I get it. It is so much easier to say yes to your kid than say no. Saying no demands effort. You have to stand your kid whining about something, and you might even have to have a long conversation with your kid, and you are tired from working and from all the stressful events that an adult life entails, and you just want to watch TV or read a book and have some peace and quiet.

But guess what. Saying yes all the time doesn’t work.

The thing that is missing from saying yes to your kid is the big picture. The goal of your parenting.

If your goal of parenting is to create a passable human being who goes out into the world not minding others, mainly thinking about their own needs and wants and being really insecure – then go ahead, say yes all the time, because here’s the thing – life doesn’t work that way. There are consequences when you are an adult and bully someone. There are consequences if you are an adult and never clean your house. There are consequences for all your actions when you are an adult, also when you give in to your child’s whining.

Saying no takes courage. Saying no takes that little effort that you didn’t know you still had in you, but if you keep the end goal in sight, you might notice that perhaps you managed to say no that one time, and the next time, it perhaps got a little bit better, a little bit easier. You might have even had a long conversation with your child about values and how to treat other human beings with respect,  because your end goal will hover in your conscious or unconscious mind – creating a human being who is respectful, who has empathy, who takes care of themselves and their property, and who is a contributing member of society.

That should be your end goal. What kind of an adult do you want to raise?

And if you are too tired to even think about what it is your child wants this time – remember the age limits are there for a reason. Most of the time they are there because psychologists and other childcare experts have put them there, and if you don’t have the energy to watch TV/play games/check out what your kid writes on an app – go with the age limits.

In that way both your kid and mine get a better environment to grow up in. One where my kid won’t be the one who keeps hearing ”What kind of a weird mom do you have who won’t let you have Whatsapp?”

 

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Comments

  1. This thing about Whatsapp… here the teachers take it for granted kids have Whatsapp and they encourage kids to use it as means of asking about homework. Boyscout-groups use it for planning meetings etc. All this from the age of about 8-9 yrs. And we use it as a family channel to share things fast before everyone is home again. Like: is someone at home yet? Put the dishwasher on, please.

    • Yes, I know – we have that problem here as well. But there are ways around that – you can insist on teachers and the adults responsible of the hobbies that they give the information in another way. Our local scout groups give the information 1. on Facebook 2. through e-mail 3. as a physical piece of paper. No whatsapp-groups there, and we and some other parents insist that the other hobbies do that as well – there have been some that have tried to insist on that, but come on – do they also buy smartphones for our kids? Because our kids won’t get a smartphone until they are at least 13.

      I also know of some parents who use Whatsapp just as you wrote, but their kids don’t get to be on any other threads than the family one. But how can you be sure your child is complying? I also know of kids who lie about things like that. And there is also that old fashioned way of sending texts to your family, or making group skype calls or skype chats. Whatsapp isn’t the only means of group communication.

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