As a wired family we embrace the use of technology within reason. When it came time for my middle school daughter to join a social network she instantly gravitated toward Instagram. She’s nearly 12 1/2 and I’d say at least half of her friends are on Instagram. Now that’s no reason to jump on that particular social media bandwagon, but I was comfortable with it once we covered a few basic ground rules. Today I’m sharing this mom’s insights on Instagram.
I was ok with her joining Instagram under a few stipulations:
- Our daughter has a private account and does not divulge any details about where she lives or attends school.
- She can only become friends with people she knows through school, family, church, Girl Scouts, etc.
- Her dad and I both follow her account through our accounts and regularly comment/like and interact with her on Instagram so that we are visible parents to her peers
I also have Miss C “turn her phone in” on school nights by 9. She doesn’t have any electronic devices in her bedroom after bedtime.
As a general rule, I think Instagram is a fairly safe segue into social media for tweens and teens and technically it is intended for ages 13 and up so parents should be aware of that age recommendation. Most tweens and teens and their peers today aren’t embracing Facebook. They’re interested in Instagram, SnapChat and Kik.
I haven’t let Miss C open a SnapChap or Kik account, although several of her friends have accounts. As a parent I want to be able to monitor her digital conversations and Instagram allows me to do so. Any social media activity that touts it can “vanish” is not one I want a soon-to-be teen using.
Personally I really love Instagram as it’s very visual. Established in 2010, think of it as an extended Twitter but with pretty visuals (from photographs to graphics.) It’s a very clean and easy to navigate photo sharing app and you can go crazy with the hashtags, no 140-character limit like Twitter imposes. A lot of fashion and photography bloggers use Instagram and it’s visually a treat. I actually met a fashion blogger at a local event last week who doesn’t even have a Twitter account (gasp for all us old school social media types.) Facebook is like a traffic heavy interstate. Instagram is like a scenic road trip. Tweens, teens and brands that rely heavily on visual marketing love the Insta. And honestly these days what brand doesn’t rely heavily on visual marketing?
More than 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35, which makes it an attractive platform for many apparel, entertainment, and media brands focused on the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket.
Here are a few discussion points to talk to your tween before they open an Instagram account. Just with anything that offers freedom beyond their own home and family, Instagram and any social media activity should be a topic for serious discussion. Kids are posting selfies faster than Kim Kardashian so be sure you set up ground rules and expectations, after all you as the parent are more than likely paying for their account at this point.
Instagram Discussion Points to Have With Your Tween/Teen
- What will you do if a “friend” posts a negative or derogatory comment on one of your Instagram pics?
- What if someone you follow posts offensive photos or comments?
- Be aware that your social media conversations leave a digital “footprint” that the entire world can see. Even though your Instagram account is set to “private” your content can be screen captured and shared via text, email, etc. Nothing, NOTHING, is private online. Set your privacy settings to share as little personal information as possible but don’t relax into thinking that your information is truly “private.”
- Don’t use Instagram, or any social media channel, to bully, spread unwarranted rumors, negativity, or seek attention in a negative way.
- Set a good example on social media. Use it to share information, make people laugh or smile, inspire creativity, etc.
- Remember common courtesy and the Golden Rule.
- Before you post a photo or comment, ask yourself if you would be ok if mom, dad, teachers, or even your grandparents saw or read it.
Are your tweens on Instagram? What are your thoughts? (This post was approved by my tween, by the way!)