My Daughter: Mom, can I please have an Instagram account?
Me: No, honey. I’m sorry you can’t.
My Daughter: Mom, Bailey and Hannah have Instagram accounts. Can I have one now?
Me: No, honey. I’m sorry, you can’t.
My Daughter: Mom, the other girls on my cheer team are posting pictures from our competition on their Instagram accounts. Can I please have one so I can see them.
Me: No, honey. I’m sorry, you can’t.
My Daughter: Mom, Kaitlyn’s mom said she can have an Instagram account if she is nice to her brother for 3 straight days. Can I get one too?
Me: No, honey. You can’t.
My Daughter: Mom, Ava got a letter from Santa Claus, and he said that she could open an Instagram account Christmas morning. Do you think he will give me a letter like that too?
Me: No, honey. He won’t. Mom overrides Santa!
If you’re the mom of a tween girl, this conversation probably sounds really familiar! It’s like the broken record of today’s generation. Social media is the place to be! For my daughter, Instagram is the social media platform of choice.
Unfortunately, the parents of this generation are on unchartered territory. No generation has gone before us to guide the way and research what parenting practices are tried and true when it comes to social media. So it’s left up to us to figure out and lean on each other as we determine what works best for our children.
I’m here to say that I just don’t know.
Obviously, I haven’t given in yet, but the pressure is continuing and I want to feel comfortable with the decision that I make. Is it that my daughter is too young, or is it that I’m not ready to deal with it yet? Is it that I want to protect her from the world of internet exposure, or it is that I’m being too controlling and sheltering her too much?
The Pros and Cons of Instagram
I’ve had the discussion with many moms over the last few months, so I thought I’d share some of the pros and cons from our fellow moms.
Pro: By allowing them to have it, it takes away the “curiosity” and novelty of it. It doesn’t seem as cool anymore and they end up not using it as much.
Con: If I allow Instagram this week, next week they will ask for Facebook. The following week, they will ask for Twitter. What will be next?
Pro: Instagram is probably the safest social media outlet of the three major sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). It only allows pictures which gives less opportunity for bullying.
Con: Posting just pictures also encourages the “selfie” trend. That leads to the obsessing over looks, worries about body image, and possibly bullying over how cute or not cute the pictures are.
Pro: A parent can monitor Instagram usage by downloading the app on their own device and logging into their child’s account.
Con: This tech savy generation is much more aware of parent monitoring and has found ways around it. One technique is to delete the app off their device and then reload it when a parent isn’t around. Another is to use special text abbreviations that are secret code indicating that a parent may be monitoring them.
Pro: If I let them open an account, it will prevent them from doing it behind my back.
Con: Who says they can’t open two accounts?
Pro: Instagram has privacy settings so that only certain people can see, comment, and tag your child in posts.
Con: Privacy settings can be tricky. There are ways around them and are constantly changing.
Pro: It promotes social interaction which is crucial in a child’s development.
Con: The very popular debate that this generation will not know how to communicate in person is alive and well!
Pro: You can allow your child to only follow their friends.
Con: How do you know what your fellow parents are allowing their children to post? What if they want to follow their favorite band on Instagram? Have you seen what some of this pop stars post on their social media pages?
A Dad’s Point of View
Although the debate could go on and on, we’ll stop there for now with the exception of one final pro and con specifically from my husband and the dad’s point of view:
Pro: You can find out if they lie. For example, they tell you they are going to the movies with Kaitlyn, Hannah and Ava. You see they posted an Instagram picture at the movies with Kaitlyn, Hannah, Ava AND Mark, Tom and Harry!
Con: Mark, Tom and Harry!