Protecting My Children is Paramount
I am a bit old fashioned and do not keep my cell phone on 24 hours a day. Around nine o’clock each night I turn it off and do not turn it on until later the following morning. On Sundays, my phone does not get turned on until after work.
This past fall, I turned on my phone after the last of my students left and had a strange question came from one of my friends. She wanted to know if another girl had a party last night. When I told her she did, I asked why. My friend told me that her daughter was upset because she saw pictures of the party on Instagram and cried the rest of the night because she was not invited.
I felt badly for this child and told the mom that this is one reason my daughter is not permitted to have an Instagram account (that makes me such an uncool mom!)
The next day, I received a phone call from the mother of the party girl. Apparently, my other friend sent her quite an email about her daughter being left out (especially after this child had been to the party girl’s house two weeks earlier to hang out). This mom wanted my advice.
I told this mom that if there weren't any pictures posted to Instagram, there would have been no problem. She should cancel her daughter’s account.
Welcome to parenting 2015 style.
Photo from Pixabay
There are 7.5 years between my older daughter and my twins. In that short window of time, my job as a mother has become increasingly more difficult thanks to social media. During Jess’ tween years, all I had to deal with was MySpace (remember that?) and Facebook. She did not even have texting on her first few phones!
In addition to Facebook and Instagram, there is Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. The ability for children today to send out all kinds of personal information to anyone has increased and now gives parents something else to monitor (if they choose to).
My twins did not get cell phones until middle school, and then I had to take them away a few times when I found their Instagram accounts. It took a while for my younger daughter to understand that this was not permitted. She did not like my reasons, but over time, she has seen issues with Instagram and now has a better understanding about my decision (although she still does not like it!)
No Instagram=Less Drama
Photo from Pixabay
The story about the birthday party is one example of why I do not permit my children to have an Instagram account. In fact, it was the biggest reason why no phones were permitted at my younger daughter's twelfth birthday party. Even though she did invite twenty-one girls, she did leave a few out.
Taking pictures at the party and posting them for anyone to see can inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. And sixth grade girls get their feelings hurt quite easily (blame the hormones). Before social media, if someone had a party you were not invited to, it was easier just to shrug it off. Now pictures of it are posted and everyone and their brother can see all the fun they are missing!
Over and over again.
It is mean, and in my opinion, a form of passive/aggressive cyberbullying.
My daughter shared with me the story of how a friend of hers was so excited to get a new pair of Ugg boots. She posted a picture of them on Instagram and another girl started in with her about how she copied her style because it was the same offbeat color. This caused the girl with the new boots to get upset.
Seriously-it's a pair of boots. Would the girl go up to her in school and start this nonsense? More than likely she would not, since it would mean a trip to the principal's office. But this was cyber-bullying that would not have happened if this child did not have an Instagram account.
Loss of Privacy
If adults were honest, they will admit to looking at other people’s social media accounts to see what is going on in the lives of others they are not friends with. Far too many people leave their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts on the public setting for anyone to see. Even if they think they have the settings on the most private, the slip of a finger can put any posting on the public setting.
Young children are not aware of the consequences of putting their words and images online. Even older teens and college students don’t quite grasp the concept that whatever they put online will be there forever. I know many adults who are in charge of hiring new personnel. They have told me that they can go back forensically to see what has been posted…and they will not hire people based on what they see.
Now middle schoolers are posting their silliness to stay online for all time.
In addition, tweens are too trusting, despite the warnings parents give them. When I first saw the Instagram account my daughter made, I asked her who some of these people were as I scrolled down her friends list. She did not know all of them personally…they were friends with her actual friends. I asked her why on earth would she let strangers know her personal business? And did she know for sure that these were other children and not adults posing as one behind a picture?
Yes, it all seems innocuous. But is it?
Self Esteem Issues
In the world of social media, it is all about the followers and the likes. The more you have, the more popular you are.
My daughter shared with me how a friend of hers takes two days to get five likes on her pictures, since she is not considered to be “popular”. Ouch!
Photo from pixaby
In yet another Instagram conversation I had with my younger daughter, she told me about her friend who spends a lot of time following (stalking) her former best friend’s pictures. Once closer than close, this girl dropped the other one like a hot potato for a new best friend. We talked about why this was a bad thing to do and how it made her feel badly. Why would she want to do this? How is it making her feel to see her old best friend sharing good times with others?
And why is this old best friend permitting this child to follow her? Again, it is just mean and so in your face, but in a passive/aggressive manner. It is also another way that people cannot move on from former relationships.
Creating a Narcissist
Photo from Pixabay
I do miss a lot about the pre-social media days. While narcissists have always existed, now we have created a generation of them. Every moment of people’s lives seem to be recorded and shared on some kind of platform. Even adults my age are guilty of posting all the fabulousness of their lives.
Children today are being raised to believe that everything they do is worthy of sharing with the world. Instead of relishing the moments, they are recording them and missing out on the real joy. Take a picture, post it and see how many likes you get! Yes, I am so important!
Get your noses out of your phone and look up at the real fun you are missing!
At some point in time my twins will be able to have their own Instagram accounts that I will closely monitor (Yeah! Another job for me that my mom did not have!). Until the time that I feel they can be responsible using this platform, my children will not have an Instagram account.
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