Social media is like a wildfire. Once it catches on, it keeps going and is very difficult to stop. I will admit, it has been a challenge trying to keep up with the technological prowess of my kids, let alone trying to be one step ahead of their social media use! Near impossible.
Right now I’m exploring Instagram–a popular photo-sharing application. The application is a big hit with preteens and teens (which I find very interesting since most social media sites indicate 13 years old as a minimum age requirement… I digress). The simple question to my son, “Are you on Instagram?”, changed my thinking about social media forever. He had not purposely kept it from me but by the time I discovered he was using Instagram, he had over 100 followers.
So I decided to embrace social media. If my kids are there, I want to be there. I am determined to figure this out, even if it gets my head spinning–which it has! I want to guide my kids along this journey while they teach me all about social media. Think of it like when you used to watch over them at the park, slowly increasing freedoms as they grew and became more independent and responsible. The same principles apply to social media. They need you more than ever!
I am happy to report my son had not posted any personal information on his account. His privacy settings were set to maximum. YES! He had been listening to us about not sharing personal information on the Internet! Except for (of course) when it came to knowing all his followers. “How could you possibly know all these people?” His response: “They are friends of my friends”. Very interesting deduction: A friend of a friend does not equal someone I don’t know.
No worries, learning takes time. That’s why I’m now on Instagram and follow my kids. It’s a condition of being on social media. I know their passwords–a condition of owning a device. These have been our house rules from the start. I don’t want my kids to feel like I’m watching every move they make, so we talk. We talk about respect online. We talk about never ever posting anything when you are upset or emotional. We talk about how once it’s posted, others can share it and it’s there forever. So be aware.
I ask my kids questions as I learn about Instagram. I think they really do like teaching me and helping me navigate through this digital world. I continue to trust my kids and give them liberties as they show more and more responsibility online. I’m learning more about social media. And I’m learning more about my kids. So yes, I’m now on Instagram along with over 300 million others. But I follow only two!
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