I’m not an Instagram expert. But, I’ve been on Instagram for over 2 years, or specifically 117 weeks, as Instagram tells me. It is in my top 5 favourite apps. I think it’s a great way to document my life, and share images with others.
Both of my daughters have been on Instagram for about 6 months. They were 6 and 8 when I first allowed it. Abby LOVES it, and Bella’s still getting the hang of it, and at 6, she’s still a little young to understand or care about it that much.
And yes, I know Instagram’s Terms of Service say you need to be 13. I know. But as with Facebook – the rules have to do with marketing laws (COPPA), and it should be a family/parenting decision, in my opinion.
Here’s what I’ve discovered, and how it works in our house:
-They are not allowed to let anyone follow them that they do not know. The ‘Photos are Private’ toggle is switched ON. Always. No one can see their images without sending a request to follow them. If they don’t know who it is, they do not allow the follow.
-Geo-tagging is not allowed. When you post a picture to Instagram, there’s a toggle that says “Add to your Photo Map”. This means that people can see where the photo was taken. Not safe. Not allowed.
-They can follow anyone they want.
-We can check their feed whenever we want, and unfollow whoever we feel might be inappropriate. For instance – just the other day, I discovered my oldest daughter was following some random guy who liked to post pictures of his tattoos…on his upper (inner) thighs. While it was innocent on her part (she likes looking at tattoos, that’s all), the amount of flesh was not okay with us.
-One selfie a day. One day, Abby posted 8 pictures of herself. My feed was filled with pictures of her. So, we now have a rule that she can only post one picture of herself a day.
-Maximum of 3 posts a day. Abby used to be the most annoying person I follow. She didn’t quite ‘get it’ in the beginning, and would FILL my feed with images. She was excited, but we had to educate her. I showed her what my feed looked like a couple days. I am following 136 people, and some days, Abby’s images would completely dominate my feed. She gets it now.
-NEVER repost a personal pic from someone else. This one drives me crazy, and I wish EVERY parent would teach their kid this one. Here’s what happens: Abby’s aunt posts a picture of her baby. Abby takes a screen shot, and reposts the picture. Abby’s friend thinks it’s cute and reposts it. Now, unbeknownst to Abby’s aunt…that picture of her baby is everywhere on Instagram, on profiles that might not be as secure as hers.
Or, Abby posts a picture of herself doing the splits. Her profile is locked down, secure, and she knows that picture is only showing up in the feeds of people she knows. But then her friend thinks the picture is awesome, takes a screen shot, and adds it to her feed, saying something personal, like “this is my friend Abby who trains at xxxx gym club’. The friend’s feed isn’t locked down, and now ANYONE can see that picture, that Abby thought was safe.
Tell your kids to STOP doing this. Seriously.
-Teach your kids how to use hashtags. Better yet, learn yourself! This is quickly becoming my biggest pet peeve on Social Media. There is never a reason to hashtag every single word of a sentence. You hashtag words that people might want to search, if you are participating in something like #ThrowbackThursday, or if you are trying to be clever. #My #Dog #is #the #Cutest. Really?!?! “My”, “Is” and “the” do not EVER need to be hashtagged. EVER. #mydogiscute works. I guess.
The Biggest Rule of All
-My kids know that ANYTHING they post ANYWHERE online can be stolen by anyone, and could haunt them forever. We’ve had the ‘one day your boyfriend will probably want a picture of your boobies’ talk. Sorry Gramma, but we have. They know that they are not to post a picture of anything ANYWHERE that they wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper. Or that they wouldn’t want Grumpa to see.