I could go into a long post on here about the dangers of your kids online. I would be completely unoriginal and could probably offer you very little compared to a lot of other sites. Instead, let me just say what’s on my heart and concerning me right now.
Kids on Instagram.
If a kid has an Ipod touch, a tablet, or a smartphone it is most likely that they are on Instagram. I currently have a follower as young as 8 on Instagram. She met me at one of the camps I spoke at and wanted to stay connected with Miss Mel. In fact, the number of kids (8-12 year olds) who follow me on Instagram increased exponentially this summer. Two years ago kids would have their parents like me on Facebook in order to stay connected with me. Now they find me on Instagram.
Here’s the deal, I don’t have a problem with kids following me on Instagram. The problem I have is when I check one of my kid followers and realize I can see all of their photos without asking for permission. That means they have no privacy settings and anyone can see all their photos. ANYONE.
So their photos of them with their friends laying in bed, their photos of selfies in the bathroom mirrors, and their photos of them and their dog…..anyone can see.
That stinking concerns me!
I know from talking to parents that most of you just don’t know.
I’m going to give you a few of my own personal notes here.
7 Guidelines for Parents with Kids on Instagram
1. Instagram’s age limit is 13 and above. If your child is under 13 they shouldn’t be on there, period, per the rules of the site itself.
2. Your child’s profile absolutely, positively should be set to private. This allows only people with permission to see their photos.
3. You, parent, need to be the one helping manage the people who are given permission to see your child’s profile and pictures. Best rule of thumb, if you don’t know them and your kid doesn’t know them, they don’t need to be following.
4. You, parent, need to be actively involved on Instagram so you’re aware of what your child is posting and seeing. Personally, if your child is very young (and you’ve ignored #1) I think you should give permission before they post any picture. In fact, I think dads should be the ones who give permission for any photos their daughters post.
5. Be aware that looking at Instagram can easily be like falling down the rabbit hole. If your child clicks on a hashtag they can immediately see every photo that has that hashtag. Even hashtags that seem harmless such as #goddidit #amen #thankyoujesus and #blessings can bring up pictures with obscene gestures, inappropriate body shots, and lewd scenes.
6. Kids want followers on Instagram. It’s like any popularity contest, the more likes the more popular you are. Right? Yeah, well we as adults know that doesn’t really matter but kids don’t care. They are going to want followers so they’re going to use hashtags such as #likesforfollows #followback and #followme. Those hashtags will attract attention and requests and then you can refer to #2.
7. Last but not least, you are the parent. You are in charge. You decide what, where, who, and when your child gets involved. Be the parent. Say no, monitor, be on guard, be aware, and be wise. You don’t have to like social media but you do need to be aware of what goes on in it because your kids are involved and will be involved.