How To Talk To Your Kids About Instagram & Safety, Because The Internet Can Be Cruel
I would not want to be a kid who doesn't like getting their picture taken, now that pictures are essentially the currency of the teen social life; It would be akin to being that one kid at the pool party who just refused to bring their bathing suit. While for years, most images of kids were taken by the likes of their parents or the school photographer, or that one weird portrait studio in every town, now they're doing it for themselves. And they're sharing their heavily filtered selfies on Instagram. So how do we talk to our kids about Instagram safety? Because they might know more about how to work the "interwebs" than the rest of us, but they could use a lesson or two in general safety.
I'm going to just be obnoxious and go out on a limb here, assuming we are talking about teens using Instagram if everyone is OK with that. Maybe preteens even; The 11-13 set are awfully worldly these days, what with their Biebers and their Swifts and such. And while a part of me loves this new age of self-expression, where kids are not only comfortable with sharing images of themselves but even neigh on expected to join the selfie-world, there are a few issues that could crop up.
Who Can See My Kid's Pictures?
In a perfect world, the only people who would have access to our little cherub's images would be the people we have vetted ourselves, preferably with a three-interview process and a catalog of iron-clad character references to back them up. That is, unfortunately, not the case. Unless your child sets their Instagram posts to "private," anyone who has access to the Instagram app will be able to browse through their pictures. And that's just... nope. Talk to your kids about doing their due diligence by setting their posts to "private," or at least reminding them to be careful what they post.
How Do They Avoid Trolls On Instagram?
Once upon a time, kids, trolls lived in wells and dined on the flesh of sleeping children. Now they are infinitely more frightening; They live inside laptops and phones, or in the dark gloom of basements in Anytown USA, and they feast on feelings. The reality is, the internet is basically a massive Burn Book, and not one of us is safe from its clutches. Not even our darling children. Teach your kids about blocking unruly followers (remind them their troll will not be notified when they are blocked) and removing followers as soon as they feel in any way uncomfortable.
How Do I keep Them From Sharing Wildly Inappropriate Pictures Of Themselves?
Let's take a leaf out of Burr Martin's book and torture our own children the way he tortured his daughter Cassie for sharing some racy photos on Instagram: By mimicking their poses in a silly way to remind them about the dangers of posting too many borderline sultry pics on a public forum. (Be careful not to "shame" them for it though. Texting them your creative selfie works just as well.)
And if that doesn't work (though honestly, how could it not?), try reminding your kids that they don't have to objectify themselves to get love. That they are worthy, and creative, and powerful without all of that extraneous B.S.
But seriously, I think the copycat pose thing probably works just as well. And who doesn't want to don a flower crown and make like they're 15 again, just for kicks?