Instagram and Your Kids: Advice for Protecting Their Safety and Their Self-Image

Here are some things they mentioned:

1. Evaluate the example you are setting.

One mom is spot on:

“I think so many of these kids are following in their mothers’ footsteps. The difference is that moms do it on Facebook. They post selfies when they’ve gotten their hair done or are in some outfit that they think makes them look especially skinny. … It’s worth noting that our daughters have seen our FB pages and have watched us take vain selfies, and they are just doing what we’ve taught them to do.”

Ugh. Self-reflection is the worst.

2. Set restrictions. 

Robyn suggested a “one selfie per day” rule.

Or even less than that. The thing about selfies is that your daughter won’t be as upset about peers not liking a photo she posts of her dog as she is a photo of herself. Why? Because it’s her face, her body, her clothes. She’s promoting herself and it’s incredibly personal. Any negative feedback (or lack of feedback) feels like an individual attack.

Robyn also suggested time/location restrictions:

“we did make a new rule that has been so lifegiving for our family: phones up and on the counter at 6pm… that may seem early or extreme, but the reality is, i think they are relieved. also – no phones in their rooms.”

This is brilliant, and even something I’ve implemented for myself. Time to be intentionally disconnected from noise.

3. Encourage positive posts.

Take note of what one parent is doing with her girls:

“I’ve ‘commissioned’ my daughters to be and make disciples, so to speak, with their social media sites. It’s often hard to speak words of truth face to face with friends. When I encouraged them to use their sites to uplift and encourage others in Christ, I discovered a wealth of spiritual depth and wisdom I didn’t know was there. The beauty of social media among teens, is if they have a healthy identity in Christ, they can use it as their platform to proclaim Him and the glorious work He’s done in their lives.”

Here are some posts from my near and dear 6th grade friends that I think are awesome! No selfies, no “rate me”…just corn dogs and the Biebs.

4. Do what works for you.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I don’t believe we can just write off social media as a passing fad. It’s not going away. It’ll change shapes and sizes and platforms, but it won’t just go away tomorrow.

That said, as one mom, Jenn, pointed out:

“We for sure can’t protect them from everything in the world, but that doesn’t mean we have to allow them access to all of it either”

Absolutely true.

Decide what platforms work for you and your family and go with it.

5. Safety first.

I didn’t mention anything about safety because I know it is a huge concern to begin with and loads of much more qualified people have already written about it. But just to be on the safe side (see what I did there?), two big things:

Private accounts: You can “protect” your kids’ accounts to control who follows them. The user requests to follow, your child accepts or declines. This is a great feature, but it isn’t foolproof. Middle schoolers LOVE taking pictures of each other on different phones, and each phone’s owner may not post the photos to a protected account. (That last sentence needed a flowchart to understand it.)

Location features: Be sure the geolocation (labeled “Photo Map” below) is turned off on their accounts, otherwise Instagram will tell exactly where each picture was posted from.

 

6. Don’t give up.

Social media changes so rapidly it can be overwhelming.

Full disclosure: As I was getting the screenshot above for the privacy settings from my own Instagram, I realized that all of my photos were tagged with location and I had no idea. So. That should make you feel better about your knowledge or lack thereof.

Stay in the conversation. Ask around to other parents. Go to classes your youth ministry offers. Get your own account. Have fun with it!

I pray hard for wisdom for you, parents, as you raise this generation of kids at such a unique time. I applaud your willingness and interest to learn and navigate this alongside your kids. And, above all, I thank God that he doesn’t leave us on our own to do this whole parenting thing.

And, hey, more discussions to come on SnapChat and Vine, if you’re interested. Stay tuned.

Check out Sarah’s blog, Life as of Late,  follow her on Twitter, or, yes, check out her Instagram account. 

More Reading:

Sarah’s first post on Instagram. The comments on her original post are here. 

Check out Sarah’s blog, Life as of Late,  follow her on Twitter, or, yes, check out her Instagram account. 

Sarah on whether your kid should SnapChat? (And what is SnapChat?)

Sarah tells you everything You Need to Know About the Vine App that Lets Kids Share Video

Rebecca on Breaking up with Facebook.

Rebecca’s followup: Breaking Up with Facebook Feels so Right 

Rebecca two months later: Frankly, I’m Shocked at the Difference it’s Made. 

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About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • Rebecca Cusey

    Note to commenters: We are switching to a new commenting platform and there may be a delay on comments posting. (Or, horrors!, a few comments lost) We’re not ignoring you, promise!

  • amy

    Interesting that even on here, highlighted how many comments her article has received so far. I think this says a lot for us adults too. Do we not notice how many people liked or commented on our FB posts or even blog followers and comments?


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