Matthew McConaughey’s Kid Didn’t Get Social Media Until Age 15

Why the actor made this decision and what we can all learn from it.

Matthew McConaughey with his wife and son at an event in April 2023.

Nothing delights my 8-year-old daughter more than discovering how things were so very different when I was a kid. My carefully curated—and alphabetized!—CD collection? She cannot wrap her head around it! “You couldn’t just ask Alexa to play your favorite Taylor Swift song?” she asks. (No, but I did have awesome mixes filled with Debbie Gibson, New Kids, and Tiffany hits that I recorded off the radio onto a cassette tape!)

It blows her mind that I had one desktop computer—not a laptop—that my whole family had to share. And the fact that iPads weren’t even around until I was engaged to my husband? It doesn’t compute! “What did you do on long car rides?” she questions. (Sleep, fight with my siblings. . .)

But the one thing I didn’t have as a kid—and my daughter won’t either—is social media. Of course, she’s aware of its existence but has no concept of the power and influence it can wield over her life and mindset—and I hope to keep it that way until she is at least 15.

I thank my lucky Gen X stars every day that my awkward teenage life wasn’t documented on Instagram or TikTok. I am so grateful that my FOMO and body dysmorphia weren’t heightened by what my peers might have posted in their grids and stories. And as much as I’m still a work in progress, I’m so happy I had the opportunity to find myself without the noise of celebrities, influencers, and their carefully curated (and completely edited) photos.

So needless to say, I was relieved—and validated—watching Matthew McConaughey echo this exact same sentiment during an appearance on the Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. McConaughey shared that he and his wife did not allow his son Levi to join social media until he was 15—even though Levi certainly wanted to join earlier.

McConaughy said allowing his son to be on social media was like “sending your kid off with a bunch of strangers into the world.” McConaughey told Levi if you’re on social media too early, “the world’s telling you and strangers are telling you who you are and if you should feel confident about yourself.”

That really resonated with me. My daughter doesn’t fully grasp what social media is or exactly how it works. She knows you can make dances on TikTok and that I scroll through photos on Instagram while she’s watching TV. She knows some content is from people we know and others are from celebrities that we wish we knew. But she doesn’t know that the content she creates one day is open to scrutiny, criticism, and devastating comments.

McConaughey was on Today to talk about his book Just Because. But the conversation turned to the parenting of teens. Hosts Kotb and Bush Hager agreed with McConaughey—Bush Hager even said her kids weren’t getting cell phones anytime soon. McConaughey said he wanted his son not to be beholden to social media.

“So the main thing was this: go live your life, Levi and if you’re doing something you think is worth sharing, then share it. Don’t wake up every morning thinking, ‘What can I do that will be a good share?'” McConaughey shared with the co-hosts.

Even though social media companies like Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) currently allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms—Surgeon General Vivek Murthy believes that is too young because, at 13, kids are still “developing their identity.”

Yes, my daughter lives in the digital age. She figured out how to use our Apple TV without a tutorial and basically taught my parents how to use their iPads. She came home from her first week of third grade with her own Chromebook for daily use in and out of the classroom. I think the first time I had access to a computer was in college and it was a fight to nab the “good one” in the library. But, despite my daughter’s access and ease around technology, social media feels like an unnecessary step. For everything about my childhood that causes my daughter to roll her eyes, we do share many important similarities.

My daughter loves reading The Babysitters Club (one of my all-time favorite series) and we’ve been reading them together from the very first book, Kristy’s Great Idea. We have deep talks on the way to school about friendship and family based on whatever Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Dawn, and Maryann are going through and that’s really helped us connect and bond.

My daughter loves listening to music, watching music videos, and then deciphering the deeper meaning of her favorite lyrics. I caught her crying while watching Taylor Swift’s All Too Well, then vowed never to watch it again because it was “way too sad.” My daughter writes in a journal the things she is grateful for or the things in her life she’s trying to make sense of—sometimes she’ll let me read it and others she will not.

Those are all things that I did as a child and young teen without the noise of social media. It was hard enough to find the books, music, and activities that resonated without influence from friends who liked something different or didn’t understand my tastes, goals, or deepest desires. I’m well aware that my daughter will face scrutiny from others “in real life” and with or without social media will have tough lessons in learning to feel confident in her choices and the things she enjoys—especially if her picks aren’t “mainstream.”

I often wonder what my life would’ve been like if social media was a thing when I was in high school. Would I have pursued a career as a writer? Or would I have put work out there that received negative comments, dashing my hopes and ambitions? I’ve always been critical of my appearance, obsessed over my weight, fought insecurities and imposter syndrome, and suffered from FOMO.

Matthew McConaughey Reacts To Son Levi Celebrating His 'Just Because' Book  Release On Instagram | Access

Using social media as an adult brings out my anxiety—I cannot imagine what it would have done to my newly pubescent mind! In high school, I believed my friends never made any fun plans without including me. But if I had social media? I would’ve been exposed to the truth—especially since my parents were strict with my curfew. My daughter experiences deep FOMO now when we have to leave a playdate or activity early. I can only imagine how social media could feed into that one day when she discovers she missed an afterparty or simply wasn’t invited to something “cool.”
It’s a struggle because the last thing I want is for my daughter to be sheltered. She’s allowed to watch YouTube Kids and Netflix. We’ve been to concerts and Broadway shows—it’s not like she isn’t aware of pop culture and trends. I let her peek over my shoulder when scrolling through Instagram if there’s a fun video from a celeb she likes or even something from our friends/family I want her to see. But watching is much different from creating content on a social media platform and joining that conversation.

As McConaughey felt strongly with his son, I don’t want other people judging my daughter while she’s still finding herself. I don’t want strangers telling her that what she puts out in the world isn’t funny or creative, isn’t smart or cool or, heaven forbid, not worthy of a like, love, or share!

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