Chrissy Teigen has 42 million Instagram followers—but wants her kids to ‘get through high school’ before joining social media

Chrissy Teigen has 42 million followers on Instagram, where she’s known for sharing with vulnerable honesty—especially when it comes to parenting her four kids. But thinking about them using social media? Not her favorite subject.

“I know I absolutely want to delay social media,” Teigen, 38, said Tuesday in New York City onstage at the Digital Parenthood Summit, a daylong event focusing on kids and screens, from online safety tool Aura. “I would say [first] get through high school. That would be my absolute dream.”

Teigen was interviewed by media executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose WndrCo counts Aura in its portfolio. He asked Teigen about her fears around her kids and social media considering her own heavy use of it.

“I know! Trust me. That’s the hard thing,” she said, explaining that she feels other technology, in small doses, is fine for her little ones—Luna, 8; Miles, 6; Esti, 1; Wren, 11 months. That includes Duo Lingo for her oldest and YouTube episodes of Ms. Rachel for Esti.

“I am into letting them have the freedom because of how much they do on a regular basis outside, activity-wise, and I do think it’s OK to give them that break sometimes,” said Teigen, who dove into her own complicated relationship with the internet, referencing a recent post in which she expressed frustrations over being criticized and misunderstood by followers.

“I always try to live very authentically online, and I was getting to the point where I felt so stifled—every single move I was making was so questioned and my character was being misunderstood,” she said. “Nothing I was doing was right and … I am very hard on myself.”

Chrissy Teigen in a chair onstage, kicking one leg out in front of her
Chrissy Teigen and Jeffrey Katzenberg onstage at the Digital Parenthood Summit.

Courtesy of Aura

To mentally detox, Teigen says she went on a four-day wellness retreat, laughing at herself for embracing “the hippie-dippy stuff that I used to make fun of before I lived in L.A. Now I’m like, ‘ooh crystals? Set an intention!’ Now that’s like my whole world, and I really kind of believe in it.”

Especially when it comes to counterbalancing the effects of media overload.

“All I know is the way I have been doing it hasn’t been working out for me—overloading myself with podcasts and television and social media and internet, all to not have to sit in silence where I have this ping-pong game in my head of what’s right, what’s not right, what mistake I made … It’s a constant battle with myself.”

Teigen says she’s relied on therapy to explore her conflicting feelings around social media—including the love for it that was born out of what she calls “a really unstable childhood” due to moving around a lot, her father working a ton, and her mother leaving the family for a time in her adolescence.

“My mom left us when I was 12 years old. I just came home one day, and she wasn’t home anymore. She had moved to Thailand” after falling into a deep depression over both of her parents dying, she said.

As a result, after Teigen’s father bought her a laptop in sixth grade, “I always searched for love and companionship and friendship through the internet. Being connected online was my stability—it was a very stable, safe place for me, which is so weird because it’s not at all now. But now I find myself searching for that same euphoric feeling that I had being online [then].”

She even took to message boards to find out information about her changing body as she went through puberty and felt those who answered her “were my people,” she said. “That’s a world that just doesn’t exist anymore, so I’m kind of mourning the loss of that kind of connection.”

Now she’s more fearful of how her kids could be harmed online—and she’s far from alone. According to Aura’s State of the Youth Report, just released in partnership with Gallup, 86% of parents express concern about their child’s online safety.

It’s why one thing she doesn’t want for her kids is for them to see social media and think that “everybody’s lives are beautiful and perfect and filtered” long before they have “the brain capacity to understand how fake all this bullshit is.”

For example, she shared, “I’ve gone to dinner with the most wildly popular people in the world and had the most shitty, uncomfortable time on the planet. But you would see a post about our dinner, and you would think it was the most gorgeous, funny, wonderful, hysterical… I’m like what? I was at that dinner, and it sucked!”

It’s why when Teigen does share, she said she feels she has “an immense responsibility to be authentic,” especially when it comes to her kids.

“I do share them a lot—I’m the first person to say it—because in so much of my life I feel that people don’t understand me. But being a mom is where a lot of people understand me,” she said. “And that communication with other parents is so important to me that it overrides almost anything else.”

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