Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has revealed that he has banned his children from TikTok and Snapchat, though he admitted that means they are sometimes ‘on the outskirts’ of their friendship groups.
The 44-year-old English soccer legend was in Sydney to promote the WeAre8 social media app and despite all its features, it’s clear the ability of his AI software to keep the site 100% free of hate or abuse is key to the fiercely protective father.
Ferdinand, an active social media user on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, explained exactly why he banned his children from accessing the major platforms.
“My 11-year-old daughter (Tia), all her friends in her class are on TikTok and Snapchat, and I told her, ‘No, you’re not going to,'” a father of four, who is expecting another imminently, said.
I’ve done it, and I know what’s being pushed and it’s not right. I walked past her bedroom when I first let her have it, and some of the songs she was singing I thought, “Wow, sometimes I don’t even say the words in those songs.”
Rio Ferdinand has explained why he keeps his children off social media platforms like TikTok
The Man United legend is wary of the negative effects social media has on young people
The BT Sport commentator said his family, which includes his wife Kate and son Cree, 2, as well as children Lorenz, 16, Tate, 14 and Tia, 11, by his first wife Rebecca Ellison (who died of breast cancer in 2015) have had discussions around the dinner table about social media.
And it led him to realize that it can even affect his friendships, not that he’s changing his mind.
“You don’t know what they’re getting, (but) you know, it’s not quite right, and it’s not for her (Tia) age group,” Ferdinand said.
“So I stopped him from using social media, and now the conversation (about social media use) is now like a table discussion.
‘And I feel sorry for her, because she’s left out of a lot of the conversations her friends are having, and because of that she’s almost on the fringes of the groups she’s in.
“My daughter is getting to the age where she can use social media and I want to put her in a safer place, a safer playground, where she can go and be a friend and show her true self without feeling judged.”
Ferdinand said it got even worse when he looked at his son’s social media pages.
‘I looked at my son’s profile the other day on Instagram, and it only had two photos. I thought, what the hell is going on? He takes photos all day, where do all these photos go?’ he said.
“I said, ‘Where are all your pictures? I keep seeing you take pictures. You take a picture of this, or ask for a picture of my new sneakers or whatever, but you’re not screwed.” I’m posting them.”
And he was like, “Yeah, no, I just don’t put it on Instagram. I’ll just post a picture and then delete it.”
‘At that point they feel really good about it (their photo). They post, but then when they sit down and think about it, or see comments, they delete it.
‘This next generation is not like us. A lot of us are tougher than these kids, and that was really powerful for me, and I was like, ‘wow.’
“My kids are my sounding board for what’s good, what’s great, and what’s not, and when I talk to them about WeAre8, they ask me if people can’t comment.”
But you don’t even need to ask me that anymore. I know they’re thinking about those things, and that’s how I know I’m on the right track with these kinds of things because those little notices are because[hate online]has impacted them elsewhere on other platforms.
England star Jadon Sancho received disgusting abuse online after Euro 2021
Ferdinand says those lessons have taught him to protect his family from social media.
The fallout from the Euro 2020 final, in which Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were attacked online after missing penalties, was a revelation for Ferdinand.
“As a Premier League footballer, you experience a lot of pain (from hate online),” he explained.
“I was in Manchester the other day at my old club, and I was with Marcus (Rashford) and Jadon Sancho, two of the guys (who missed penalties at Euro 2020), explaining WeAre8 to them in a bit more detail.
‘Jadon said, “If I had that (WeAreEight app)… Shit! I would have had a good summer, I would have been able to go and walk away from it.”
“Whereas with all the other platforms they’re on, they’re addicted and getting that negative energy constantly, so there was no way out and no respite.
‘Then about a year later, he actually had a break from football because of the problems.
“So it shows you a player, who cost £85m and everyone thinks he’s Mr. Macho, he’s a guy who’s affected by social media.” So God help people who don’t have the resources that someone like that has, who we assume is enormously resilient.
Ferdinand has lent his support to a new social media platform: WeAre8
He says he wants to be known for his work with social media rather than his football career.
Ferdinand might be a six-time Premier League champion, win a Champions League title and be one of England’s most decorated players of all time, but on his journey Down Under he admitted his biggest goal in life now was to be known to be anything. but a footballer
“A lot of people used to say to me, ‘when you finish playing football, what do you want to do? What do you want to achieve? Is there anything else you want to do?'” he added.
‘Obviously I had a very good football career. It was a lot of fun and it took me to places I never imagined, but I think a success for me in the next stage of my life is doing something that has the possibility of eclipsing what I’ve done in my football career.
“I take the train to the office, to London and I can’t wait for the day and it’s going to come soon I’m sure, where I have people come up to me and the first thing they say is not about football.
It will be: “thank you for the impact you helped me have with WeAre8 or thank you for the difference you made with WeAre8”.
“That’s the journey for me now in this next phase of my life, and we’re on a great road.”