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Of Course Kanye West Is Right Not To Want His 8-Year-Old On TikTok

screenshot of Kanye's instagram post of his daughter
Image CreditKanye West/Instagram

The real issue here is Kim’s suggestion that healthy parenting means letting children do whatever ‘brings them happiness.’

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It was both sad and uncomfortable to watch as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West hashed out their messy divorce and parenting disagreements publicly over Instagram on Friday. But as damaging as the public feud is for their children and family, Kanye is right to protest his 8-year-old daughter’s use of TikTok.

“I NEED TO KNOW WHAT I SHOULD DO ABOUT MY DAUGHTER BEING PUT ON TIK TOK AGAINST MY WILL ?” the rapper wrote on Instagram Friday morning.

Kim, who is typically extremely private, stoic, and rarely makes public comments about her divorce, responded with a statement on her Instagram.

“Kanye’s constant need for attacking me in interviews and on social media is actually more hurtful than any TikTok North might create,” she wrote via her Notes app. “As the parent who is the main provider and caregiver for our children, 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.”

Kanye responded with two more posts (now deleted), one alleging that Kim tried to keep Kanye from his children and forced him to take a drug test, and another of a screenshot of TikTok’s terms of service about not allowing users under the age of 13.

Putting aside the fact that Instagram is perhaps the worst possible way to mediate marriage and parenting disputes, Kanye is not wrong to take drastic measures when it comes to protecting his children from social media, especially apps such as TikTok.

The obvious and well-documented negative consequences of letting children and teenagers use TikTok are too great in number to fully account for here. Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky happened to write about the broader consequences of TikTok on our children, and thus the future of our nation, just hours before Kanye’s first post went up. She wrote:

If you browse this BuzzFeed roundup of the top trends on TikTok in 2021, you’ll find explicit dances, songs, and gender-bending alongside adorable dogs and easy recipes. In 2020, Seventeen included the “WAP” dance on its roundup of the app’s most popular trends, meaning millions of American kids were watching and making video after video of a song about “wet ass p-ssy.”

From the exposure to age-inappropriate content to the well-established findings of how screens affect children’s cognitive development and mental and physical health, Kanye’s reasons for not wanting his daughter on TikTok really need no explanation or justification. The real issue here is Kim’s suggestion that healthy parenting means letting children do whatever “brings them happiness.”

Half the battle of parenting is implementing rules that interfere with a child’s “happiness,” but we do it anyway because we know what’s best for them. We limit sugar, strap them into car seats, and enforce bedtimes, even despite their often loud protests. Why would we not do the same with technology?

In Naomi Schaefer Riley’s book, “Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat,” she addresses our cultural and moral failure to help parents actually be parental. Riley sternly calls out parental ignorance, explaining that by ignoring common sense and choosing to hand our kids screens anyway, we are choosing “not to parent.”

Riley calls for drastically limiting children’s screen time, and intensively surveilling online behavior. “Many kids will be fine even without these restrictions, and some kids will fall into trouble even with them. But as parents, it’s time for us to stop playing the odds,” she writes.

Kanye’s protests may come off as unhinged or outspoken, but his drastic measures only underscore just how far, rightly, he is willing to go to parent and protect his children.