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.
I describe Bella as a ‘perfect middle child’. She goes with the flow, she adapts easily, change doesn’t bother her. She’s happy-go-lucky and as sweet as they come.
Because of this, when she does get upset, it throws our lives completely off it’s axis.
The one thing that she has never really handled well, is going to school. The preschool teachers had to peel her off me every day from September until Christmas break. Until she met some friends. Or a friend. She always has had just one or two good friends.
Kindergarten went well, and I’m not sure why. The 2 classes did a lot of stuff together, and she had the same teacher that her sister had, and she really liked him. Along with knowing a couple girls from preschool, she made 2 really good friends, who were both in the other class.
On the 1st day of grade one, she was put in a class with none of her besties. She knew a couple girls, but was not happy. She was the only kid crying that morning, standing against the brick wall, lined up waiting to go inside. My heart broke. Oh and her teacher was pregnant. So I knew she’d be leaving during the school year.
I did nothing.
I figured it would be good for Bella. This would force her to make new friends. And the teacher leaving at Christmas break would be okay – since Bella knew it was happening.
Now, it’s the end of January. She’s cried walking out the door almost every single day. The teacher even noticed she seemed ‘sensitive’ one day. Abby found Bella crying in the bathroom once. She’s had more sick days this month than in December, when we had the plague. She coughs, says she doesn’t want to go to school, my heart breaks, and I let her stay home.
Today, the tears turned to full blown sobs.
We sent her out the door. Forced our sweet girl to do something she really didn’t want to do. She hates school, and she’s only in grade one. I ask her why she hates school, and all she says is “it’s too long”, and she “just wants to stay home”.
So what do I do? I can request she be moved into the class with her besties from kindergarten. But what if I do that and she still hates it? Do I ask her if she wants to be moved and get her excited only to find out that they can’t make it happen? Do I not tell her, and have it happen, and then have her freak out that she doesn’t want to be on the other side of the school (she’s right across the hall from her big sister now and LOVES that). Do I let her come home for lunch to make the day seem less long?
Poor sweet Bella.
Oh, and to all the parents with babies that don’t sleep or with toddlers that won’t eat or pee on the toilet…that’s nothing. It gets WAY harder.
It seems with every new year, I try to implement some sort of chore/allowance system.
We’ve done print-out charts and plain old nagging, but what sees the most success around our house are the apps.
Last year, I used the iRewardChart app. with some success. It was easy to set up, and the girls did chores for stars, which they saved up for a reward. We had it set up that they would receive $5 for every 50 stars they received. It worked well for awhile, but ultimately it’s failure was our fault. We stopped following through with the rewards, and they stopped doing the chores.
Back to plain old nagging.
This year, I wanted something with more of a financial focus. I wanted to give them cash allowances, on a weekly basis. The girls are really into clothes now, so I thought that saving some cash to buy what they want would be a good incentive.
I went to the App Store, and downloaded iAllowance.
Well, let me start off by saying this app is not for the faint of heart. The fact that they have the words ‘Simple & Fun’ on the website makes me laugh. I had to peruse the forum, and watch YouTube videos to figure out how to set it up, use it, and cash out at the end of the week. I’m confident that I have it figured out now. Pretty much.
Just the time I’ve put into this app this week, will motivate me keep at it!
It’s great in that you can set up piggy banks within the app to hold the money, and withdraw from wherever you want. ie – if they earn $1.00 for a certain chore, I can have $0.10 (or whatever) to go into a savings piggy bank. Or we can set up a Christmas Savings piggy bank, etc.
We just stuck with one piggy bank to keep things simple(r) for now.
It also links up to DropBox to save the data, so you can use it with multiple devices.
I entered in all the chores that I wanted them to do daily and weekly, and worked backwards. I took the amount I was willing to pay them every week, and made it so if they did all of their chores,they’d receive that amount.
The amount was $7/wk.
They were paid $2.75 and $3.60.
We have some work to do.
But, they were excited. They ran around and did a few extra chores right before pay-out time. It became a competition for Abby, “What can I do so I earn more than Bella?”
Oh and Charlie? He’s still at the ‘I like to clean up because it makes Mommy happy’ stage. So we’re not messing with that right now!