I will start this off by saying that legally your child needs to be 13 to have an Instagram account.
You may be wondering when to say yes (or if you should) to your child asking for an Instagram account.
Instagram is a photo sharing social networking site. Girls are using it to publicly declare friendships, as a “barometer of popularity”, shame and bully, and as a result, it can affect self-esteem.
If you decide to let her have an Instagram account…
Two Safety Tips
- Make the account private and ensure they know all of their requested followers in real life before approving them.
- Have their location services turned OFF (in Settings) so people cannot track their location or contact them by searching photos by location proximity. Yes, that’s a thing.
When Should Your Child Be Allowed To Join Instagram?
When do you say yes? How do you know?
I don’t think there is a specific age or formula for deciding this. I think, as with all parenting decisions, every family will have unique decision-making factors and will make the appropriate choice for their child.
When my daughter asked me for the first time, she was 10. I told her she would have to show me 5 accounts of people she knew on Instagram that she would be following before I would let her join.
It took several months before she had those five accounts to show me, so that worked. Yay for the delay!
When she finally showed me those accounts I was pleased to see innocent accounts of girls and boys from her grade at school showing pics of pets, food and fun.
Things To Watch For
There is more than innocent photos of pets and the occasional lipstick selfie to Instagram. Unfortunately. It is often used to measure one’s own popularity, public displays of affection or friendship fall-outs. This article scared me into watching more closely what Nya is up to on Instagram.
A lot of kids have a link to a quiz as her bio link. What you find when you go through their quiz is really a question of ‘how well do my friends know and like me’. The boys are also doing this. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but I wonder about how it makes a child feel when either nobody takes their quiz, or even their closest friends aren’t answering the questions about them correctly.
Publicly Declared Friends
A list of initials within one’s Instagram bio page is very common. It may look like a cryptic or random use of the account owner’s description, but it is actually a way to declare one’s tightest group of friends by listing their initials for everyone else to see. This also means that when a disagreement or fall-out occurs, someone’s initials get deleted. Imagine how hurtful it is to have a group of friends publicly dismissing a member of the group. Girls can be mean.
Girls often post ‘Rate Me’ type images that encourage likes based on how people view them; for example “4 likes = okay 6 likes=decent 8 likes= pretty 10 likes = cute …. ” you get the picture. It’s horrid to think that our girls are defining their beauty by how many likes an Instagram image will get. I encourage my daughter to understand that this is not reality, only a fun game.
Stay In Touch With Her In Her Space
Every parent is going to handle it all slightly different. Watch your children’s social networks for ‘mean girl’ behaviours and ask them how it’s making them feel on a regular basis.
I would not let my girls use a social network that I am not active on myself.