Wisconsin parents weigh in after Surgeon General says 13 is 'too young' for social media

NOW: Wisconsin parents weigh in after Surgeon General says 13 is ’too young’ for social media


WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Local parents are weighing in after the US Surgeon General said 13 is "too early" for kids to be using social media.

Eight in 10 parents with kids under the age of 11 have used a tablet, and 81% of teens 13 to 17 have used social media, according to national studies.

"Honestly, 13 is definitely too young. Because there's too much stuff on social media for little kids to get into," said Father Richard Smith.

He, his wife, and his 1-year-old, Leilani, were at an indoor play place Monday because of the cold.

Anthony Welter, a dad with two young kids who is also the guardian of his niece, says he's begun to see the effects earlier than he expected.

"I have a 14-year-old niece that has been exposed to a lot of bullying and things like that through different types of social media, because kids have no problem typing things without repercussions," said Welter.

He says outright banning social media for kids is a double-edged sword, however, as kids will hear things from other kids, and they won't want to be left out.

"I don't want my kid to become a little devoid, yet we want to protect them, but there's only so much you can do," said Welter.

He says he tries to be part of his kids' social media consumption so he knows what they're watching and can help choose positive material.

"Obviously it's not black and white, that's kind of a more of a grayer issue when it comes to understanding how you're utilizing social media, and as a parent, our responsibility is to like guide our kids and help them make decisions," said Welter.

Smith said having discussions with his daughter about social media is where that will start.

"I'm going to inform her of these things in the world," said Smith. "But I'm gonna try to block those social sites until she's of age."

He says when she's 16 or 17, he might be more comfortable with her being on social media.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says parents should talk with each other about setting guidelines together in their social groups.

Smith says having conversations like that with other parents seems like a good idea.

"Not to try to tell [other parents] what to do, but essentially try to make it where everybody's on the same page with things," said Smith.

Currently companies like Meta- the owner of Facebook- and Twitter allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms, but parents say even if companies change their rules, kids could still lie to make an account.

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