Monday, November 11, 2013

Insta-conversation for Parents & Kids.

Moms and Dads, you and I are parenting little digital natives. Outside of living on the compound, we cannot escape this. Eventually, these little digitally-savvy crumb-snatchers gifts from the Lord are going to want an iPod and/or a tablet of some sort and/or a phone.

I am not going to tell you how to parent your kids, or tell you when/if I think it is appropriate or necessary to allow kids to have a smart phone. You know your kids way better than I do and there is no biblical mandate on it so I'm not going there.

Today, we are going to focus on Instagram. Instagram seems to be the gateway to social media. Playing the "I'm just not a social media person" card is just not going to cut it if you are going to allow your kids to have access. Ok, so maybe I am telling you how to parent. *grin* But, really. If your kid has social media access, you should, too.
{Image belongs to Instagram}
So much of this comes down to teaching. We don't have to avoid social media outlets just because there are some sketchy aspects of it. You can, if you want. That doesn't make you a bad parent. Nor does allowing your kids to use them.

When navigating into the Insta-world, there is one thing for parents to consider first: Age of Usage.

This is a biggie for a lot of folks and for good reason. Below is the Children's Privacy portion of the Instagram Privacy Policy. A lot of folks read this to say the minimum age for usage is 13. That's not what this says. This policy is in effect to protect Instagram. It does say that the content of Instagram is "not directed at children under the age of 13",  I see that. This does not prohibit use. Those are two different things. "Parental consent" is a big phrase here. You are the parent. You get to decide. 
{From Instagram Privacy Policy}

Once we made the decision to 'go there', the dialogue (not lecture) began.
These are some things we discussed in our house:

1. Purpose- What is the purpose of Instagram? Why are we using it? For us, it's a photo sharing site. It's for fun and connection with friends. We understand that we don't use Instagram for meeting people or being popular or whatnot. You have to decide in your house what is an acceptable purpose for Instagram.

2. Privacy- Set that profile to private for the love of Mark Zuckerberg. There really is no reason to have your full name. First name, last initial is enough for your friends to know you.  Also, your 'single' status at age 12 is of no significance. Honestly. 

3. Following- We have an agreement about a few things. 1.) I follow who they follow. 2.) I follow who follows them. 3.) They do not grant any request for a follow without checking with me first. 4.) They don't follow anyone without checking with me first.
Let me be clear: my girls understand that we do this because we love them and are for them. They also understand that they have an enemy who hates them and is against them. This enemy will use any scheme necessary to bring destruction, including fun little Instagram. These little "rules" are not a battleground for us. We are together on it.

4. Popularity- This is hot issue for me. Not the popularity, per se, but begging for popularity. This business about "like for like" and "follow for follow" is so ridiculous of a thing it should not even be a thing. So, we talk about it. (This is the notion of liking other photos just so someone will like your photos, same for following.) What does it mean for a person to have a lot of "likes" or "followers"? Why would a person want to have a lot of followers?

In addition, just as a "social media etiquette" issue, I have told my girls, "You do not ever 'like' your own photo and liking every picture your friend posts is unnecessary." It's just cheesy. And, since I'm getting fired up, let's put a max on hashtags, shall we, for Jimmy Fallon's sake? Maybe 3 or 4 maximum per photo?

5. Pics-  We discuss what photos are appropriate to post. This may seem silly at first, but I don't think so. We just encourage our girls to be intentional with social media. We don't want to see any unflattering pictures of other people posted. (This came up when we saw a sister post up an unflattering picture of her sister as a joke. No.) We also don't want to see blessed selfie after selfie! I don't know where I got it from, but someone suggested a 1:20 ratio for selfies. I love it! So, the day I read it, we made it our 'rule of thumb'! We had a good laugh and thought it sounded like a great idea. So, for every selfie, you should post 20 photos of other things or people.

6. Porn- My girls understand that pornography means sexually implicit photos. (They've not seen any, give sketchy junk at a mall or commercial. Ugh.) They understand that porn is addictive and that most kids ages 9-13 see pornography by accident while searching online. They understand that pornography contributes to the buying and selling of humans. Because of this, they are careful not to just go perusing the popular page of Instagram.

The world of social media changes our world as parents. These are just parts of discussions that we've had as a family over time related to Instagram usage. This was not one conversation.

What would you add to this discussion?

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