Navigating Instagram as a Parent

As a parent there are common factors you get warned about; such as sleepless nights, work life balance challenges or tantrums. No one ever gets advise on navigating instagram as a parent. Most parents have to figure it out on the go, especially when your child asks if they can get on instagram or some other social media channel.

social media navigating instagram as a parent

The legal age to get an account on instagram is 13 and this is largely due to a U.S. federal law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. (via Huffington Post)

Just a few weeks ago, Instagram launched a parent’s guide aimed at helping parents understand what the social media platform is about, and how they can keep their kids safe while using it. The guide highlights features such as private profiles; blocking or reporting abusive comments or accounts, and setting time limits for daily use.

Sometimes saying no to children’s request to getting on social media seems difficult and mean if you don’t understand why. It is important as a parent to know your reasons for saying “not yet”when your child asks to get online. There are several children who complain that they feel isolated when they are not allowed on Instagram. This is because they feel that they are the only ones who don’t know what is happening when people say did you see that post? You will have to be ready to deal with this real concern.

Social Media Concerns for Parents

Social media as an idea is not bad in itself. The real issue is that social media is setup to be addictive. There are many adults who are addicted and children are even more susceptible to addiction from dependence on social media.

The search feature is another worry, a young child innocently looking for something can wind up with some disturbing results. The “Discover” page, which curates either popular content or content related to past searches, is full of potentially harmful photos.

One of the main problems many parents hope to shield from their children is the issue of comparison. A 2017 research survey found that Instagram is the social media platform that’s most damaging to young people’s mental health.

“Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they’re missing out while others enjoy life,” the report said. “These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude.”

Parents don’t know about the ‘finsta’ accounts

Parents might not be aware of the secret “finsta” or “spam” accounts to avoid their parents. A “finsta” is a second account created under a fake name, containing photos the user only wants their closest friends or a select group of people seeing, rather than their regular Instagram followers. Children do this to avoid their parents. They give their parents false confidence that the more acceptable account is their child’s only account. Sigh

Parents need to have real conversations about social media with their children. This is just in the same way you would have conversations about everything else. Social media is here to stay and it has some good elements but also some bad effects. It is the bad we are concerned about such as bullying, addiction, depression, negativity from comparison and more.

Navigating instagram as a parent includes knowing your child, knowing your reasons for saying ‘not yet” when it comes to getting on social media; and have a process to monitor the effect of social media and technology on your child. I recommend keeping your child off as long as possible but have an open line of conversation with them about it.

As a first step let them browse through your account with you and see what catches their attention.

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