Opinion: Nope, 8-year-olds do not need to 'express their creativity' on TikTok 6 months ago

Opinion: Nope, 8-year-olds do not need to 'express their creativity' on TikTok

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are (unsurprisingly) getting a divorce – and things are not playing out particularly nice.

Which, again, is rather unsurprising. We are talking about people who thrive on – and rake in a whole lot of money – from drama.

Anyway, the latest instalment in the saga is that Kanye, who is the father of Kim's four children, North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm, is very unamused that his ex-wife is allowing their eight-year-old daughter, North – their eldest child – to use social media – and, in particular, doing so while also wearing makeup.

Kim and North have set up a 'joint' public Tik Tok account, and millions and millions of Kardashian fans – and everyone else under the sun – can view these whenever the duo posts anything.

And this, Kim argues, is her every right (in fact, she has even put a little note on their Tik Tok page stating that the account is 'managed by an adult' – you know, just in case you would think she let her underage daughter operate a social media account five years before she is allowed to do so according to the platform guidelines.)

However, this, of course, went a bit belly-up a couple of months ago, when North was running around their mansion making a TikTok video unknown to her mum, and even caught footage of Kim lounging in bed, and seemingly being annoyed with her daughter for making a video without her knowledge.

Not annoyed enough, though, to delete the account, it seems, as it is still active, and little North is still busy creating make-up tutorial videos and pouty selfies.

@kimandnorth♬ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry

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Earlier this week, Kanye took to Instagram to express his frustration with the fact that his young daughter is making public social media videos for millions of viewers, and asked his own followers for advice on what to do about North being on the platform when he has made it clear he doesn't want her to be.

"Since this is my first divorce I need to know what I should do about my daughter being put on TikTok against my will?" the rapper wrote alongside a screenshot of his firstborn in a video from the TikTok account she shares with Kim.

It did not take long for his estranged wife to post a story to her own Instagram account to clap back at Kanye, writing in a lengthy post:

"I am doing my best to protect our daughter while also allowing her to express her creativity in the medium that she wishes with adult supervision – because it brings her happiness," she wrote.

"Divorce is difficult enough on our children and Kanye's obsession with trying to control and manipulate our situation so negatively and publicly is only causing further pain for all."

There is a reason social media platforms have an age limit

Now, here is where you lost me, Kim. Because as the mother of an eight-year-old myself (and an 11-year-old too), let me assure you of this: Eight-year-olds do not need to 'express their creativity in the medium they wish' if that medium is social media.  Not by a long shot.

Yes, children are naturally creative – and as parents, we should strive to let them express this and nourish this in them, of course. Let them draw and paint and craft and build and create as much as possible. Heck, let them make dance shows and cartoons and make-up tutorial videos too if they so wish. But – and here is the key – their creative endeavours do not need to be uploaded to a public TikTok account for the world to like and comment on.

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In fact, the fact that Kim Kardashian thinks this is necessary in order for North to 'express her creativity' and that it would somehow be limiting on North if was told no, you are not allowed on TikTok, well, that says a lot about Kim's parenting, in my opinion.

Is it not our job, as parents, to set boundaries? To let our children know that they cannot get – or do – everything they please? And is it not our responsibility to make sure they are not only following rules, but also that they are not exposed to things they shouldn't – or needn't – be before they are ready?

TikTok – and social media in general – is just such things.

In fact, if Kim had bothered looking at the rules at all, she would have realised that the legal age limit for using TikTok is, in fact, 13. Meaning, of course, that little North is five whole years too young to even be legally allowed to use the app and share content on it.

@kimandnorth♬ Jr Stit x bruno mars x adele - Margaux_lbt

Most social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) has the same age limit – and for the simple reason that children younger than this do not have the social, emotional, educational and developmental maturity to interact with these mediums.

Let us not forget that not only has there even been videos of people committing suicide live on TikTok circulating on the app, but also several deaths and countless injuries reported from children attempting a variety of 'challenges' that are circulated on the social media app, from ingesting magnets to restricting your airflow until you black out.

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There have also been studies that have proven beyond doubt that social media use can fuel feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression and that children using social media have a higher risk of mental health issues, and are more susceptible to cyberbullying and peer pressure.

Yes, I know – social media will no doubt play a large part in our children's entire lives, they were born to a generation of parents that shared pictures of every lunch they ate out and every pool they swam in on holidays. Their lives will be shaped by technology on a whole other level any generation before them, and they will probably, in many ways, live a life that is almost as much virtual as it is IRL.

However, does that not make it even more important that we delay their foray into the world of social media?

Childhood is fleeting, let it just be about being a child

I think as parents today, we need to guard our children's childhood more fiercely than ever. We need to protect their right to just be children – and all that that entails – because it matters so, so much.

We know, because research has told us, that it matters for their physical health – children should be outside and run and play and climb and chase and dig and get dirty and have scraped knees and grubby clothes – be it from the back garden or the local park or the fields across the road or the school year or the playground.

And we know that childhood also matters greatly to children's long-term mental health, even long after they are grown up.

The problem? Smartphones – and social media – are changing childhood for today's children.

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Playing outdoors, spending time with friends, reading books and hanging out with family is happening a lot less to make room for hours of snap chatting, Instagramming, and catching up on YouTube or TikTok. And with studies showing many children are spending anywhere between three to seven hours daily in front of a screen, it is no wonder that many childhood essentials – such as play, art, crafts, sports, friends – are pushed aside for online amusement.

Smartphones and social media are harming today's children

Initial results from a groundbreaking study by the US National Institute of Health reveal that MRI's found significant differences in the brains of children who use smartphones, tablets, and video games. The researchers found that children who spent an excessive amount of time on screens were found to have a premature thinning of the cortex – the outermost layer of the brain that processes information from the five senses.

As well as that, we know that studies have shown a link between social media use and feelings of anxiety and depression.

Research shows that the more time someone uses social media the more likely they are to be depressed. A Harvard Business Review showed the more you use Facebook the worse you feel. And another report demonstrated that adolescents’ psychological well-being decreased the more hours a week they spent on screens.

In addition, when children overuse technology, the constant stimulation of the brain causes the hormone cortisol to rise. Too much cortisol can inhibit a child from feeling calm. The problem? According to experts, the loss of tranquillity can lead to serious anxiety disorders.

Armed with this knowledge, does it not want to make you protect your children's childhood? Knowing they will more than likely spend so much of their time on social media in a few years, does this not make you want to do everything else with them now?

Yes, let them express their creativity – and better yet – express yours alongside them too. But do it in a child-appropriate way. Do it in real life. Do it the way children should do it – and feel grateful you are giving them a childhood where social media has no place. Because it shouldn't have.