I have an account so I am familiar with what it is and how it works so when I found it she was using it I wasn’t uncertain about what it was she involved in.
What I didn’t know was whether her account was set to public or private or what she was doing with it. Had no idea who she was following and what she was sending out and that concerned me.
I Pay Attention…Really
She is 9.5 going on 30 so you better believe I pay close attention to what she does online. I have the passwords and login information for any account she sets up online.
Instagram was something she was on for about two days last year. She told me about how her best friend signed her up for it and I said I wasn’t thrilled about her getting involved without any parental involvement.
Her mom and I sat her down and talked about it and then we followed along and watched her interest quickly wane. One day she told me she was done with it and I said ok. I didn’t check to see whether she deleted her account and I forgot about it.
A short time later I moved to Texas and in the hustle and bustle I forgot about it. Anyhoo, a couple of days ago she told me she was back on it and I made a point to start following her.
I can see she really did stop using it and that it is recent that she resumed things but it leads to the same question all the same.
Should Children Be on Instagram?
I sat down with her and had a long discussion about privacy concerns and she explained what she was doing to protect herself and I told her I was proud because she is conscious about maintaining privacy and trying to protect herself.
But what she hadn’t thought about was what her friends could do with her photos/videos and how once you put something online you lose control of it.
Nor had she considered the ramifications of what happens as you age or as I explained to her, “you used to love Dora and now you would be embarrassed if people thought you were still watching.”
I think the stuff she has online is cute but I am her father and though I may tease her there is no fear nor concern that I am going to harm her.
When we spoke I made an effort to try not to paint the Internet as a big scary place because I don’t want her to live life afraid of being hurt or harmed by anything and everything.
Yet I know full well that there are some things that merit greater degrees of concern so trying to find the balance of how to guide her is tough.
It Is Not Just Instagram
It is not just Instagram that we parents need to be concerned about. It the Internet and social media in general. It is knowing that our children have access to news and information that often may not be appropriate for them and that they won’t always know/accept/admit/recognize this.
My 13 year-old has already told me about how different children are now and how I just don’t get it. One of his friends told me that girls are different too and that I should be prepared for big changes in dating.
It took great restraint on my part not to ask him if that meant they had three sets of genitals or horns growing out of their heads. Hell, I wanted to tell him in my day girls had teeth down below so we had to wear condoms made of steel.
Don’t worry, I didn’t say any of these things out loud. Don’t want to scare or scar these kids for life.
But I do think about these things and am always interested to see/hear how other parents take some of these challenges on.
What about you? How do you think we should handle children and social media?