Should Children Be Allowed To Have An Instagram Account?

What's important?

This post was either going to be the sequel to Easy Choices Lead To Hard Decisions or an updated version of How To Make Time For Blogging but then I found out my 9.5 year-old is on Instagram.

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?

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  1. Gina January 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Back when my kids were that age, it was AIM and it freaked me out. The immediacy of the contact was over the top. Interacting had to take place at the kitchen island. Now, they aren’t into Facebook but Instagram and Snapchat. On Snapchat they think they can say anything they want and it just goes away. Poof! But I’m not so sure about that. You’re on top if it and she’s forthcoming with you as my kids are. I try to give them space and not “like” too much but I watch. Always. I have a friend, in LA (go figure), whose daughter is newly 15 and I’d wring amanda’s neck if she posted what this girl does (and my friend follows her and hopes she gets a modeling contract). Anyway, technology makes parenting more challenging and I worry that kids and how they interact in person will suffer. I could go on forever but have to go follow you on Instagram.

    • Jack January 12, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Sometimes I watch all the kids sit with their phones in a circle or close to it and wonder if they know how to look at someone while talking because it feels like they are always doing it while looking down. 😉

      I have made a point to teach them to view what they post online as being up forever and easily discovered. They kind of believe me but I hope that in time kind of moves to complete. I worry about how much influence this crap has on life later on. It is probably fine, but…

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