Erin Napier’s Latest Project Helps with Raising Social Media-Free Kids

published Jul 12, 2023
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headshot of erin and ben napier
Credit: Photo: Getty Images; Design: Apartment Therapy

Kids in the age of social media are growing up a lot differently than generations past. They have so many more peers to compare themselves to, “ideals” to live up to, and factors that can cause poor mental health. To protect kids from the pitfalls of social media, Erin and Ben Napier have launched an organization called Osprey (Old School Parents Raising Engaged Youths) that encourages parents to hold off on allowing their kids to get social media until they’re out of their schooling years.

“My friends parenting smartphone-free middle schoolers have had a brutal experience of seeing their child left out, even though research tells us social media is as addictive and destructive for developing brains as any drug,” Erin Napier wrote in a July 6 Instagram post. “This made me think: my kindergartener doesn’t expect to drive a car before she’s old enough. She doesn’t expect to own a house of her own before she’s old enough. If we build a culture in our home and school now where she doesn’t expect access to the entire world in her pocket until she’s much older, we can set her up for success.”

Napier wrote that, when the time comes, she’ll give her two daughters a simple phone that can call and text just as she plans to teach them how to ride bikes before they can drive.

“Forming a circle of families and friends who are in this together when your kids are little, linking arms and doing what it takes to give your kids the gift of a social media-free adolescence is the only way we change the culture,” she continued. “For the TWENTY THOUSAND parents who’ve already joined the Osprey newsletter after my post last month, we have a vision and a plan to give our kids support that starts now and takes them through high school graduation. Let’s make old school the new way.”

The Osprey movement will kick off August 1 at the University of Mississippi with a panel discussion featuring Dr. Adriana Stacey, an expert in adolescent screen addictions, Special Agent David Polson of the U.S. Secret Service Cyber Crimes division, the Napiers themselves, and the CEOs of C Spire mobile operator company. You can grab tickets here.

You can also sign up for the Osprey newsletter over on the organization’s website to learn more about the movement and upcoming events.