Why Erin And Ben Napier's Kids Are Banned From Social Media Until After High School

HGTV's "Home Town" has Ben and Erin Napier to thank for making the home renovation show such a success. The husband-and-wife team are equal parts knowledgeable and adorable, making them a perfect addition to the network's roster of hosts. But the other appeal of "Home Town" is its nostalgic Americana vibe. The Napiers' Mississippi home base is the kind of place where folks spend summer evenings on their front porches sipping sweet tea, and the couple does their best to keep the classic character of the homes they overhaul. 

These days, though, the Napiers are working to get families feeling nostalgic for a simpler way of life that has nothing to do with floral wallpaper or farmhouse sinks. They're helping launch an organization called Osprey, an acronym for Old School Parents Raising Engaged Youth. Their goal is to create a national culture of parenting in which the norm is to bar kids from social media until after high school. 

Their mission statement says in part, "When we change the culture around 'everyone has it except my child' by linking arms with other parents in our communities and committing to embargo social media together beginning in the elementary grades, we set our children up for success before peer pressure can take it from them." It's a concern Erin and Ben take personally. As parents to daughters Helen, 4, and Mae, 1, they're determined to protect their girls from the dangers of Snapchat and TikTok before they're ready to handle them.

The Napiers urge all parents not to let minors have smartphones

"Home Town" star Ben Napier has transformed himself physically through a commitment to fitness; now, both he and his wife, Erin Napier, have transformed themselves into advocates for internet-free childhood. On their Instagram feeds, the HGTV stars are promoting the August 1 launch of their Osprey organization for parents. Noting that their kindergartener daughter doesn't expect to drive a car safely for at least a decade, the couple explained that the same logic holds true for her social media use. "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," they wrote.

Experts back them up. The Mayo Clinic points to studies showing a strong link between social media use and depression in adolescents. Spending excessive time on cell phones creates a harmful disconnect and isolation from the outside world. Kids who have unlimited access to social media are also at risk of being bullied online, exposed to inappropriate content, or being contacted by strangers. 

Screen time consultant Emily Cherkin recently pointed out to NPR that screen exposure also creates high levels of dopamine (the pleasure hormone) in young brains, making it hard to focus on offline activities like school or hobbies. Thousands of "Home Town" fans have applauded the Napiers' initiative. One, however, pointed out a small paradox: "[I]t seems a bit disingenuous to be using social media to advance an anti-social media agenda."