My 13-year-old daughter is not allowed a Facebook account
Even though she’s legally old enough (according to FB), we feel that this is just another forum for teenage girls to make bitchy comments about each other online and a place for cyberbullies to vent.
She’s not too concerned about Facebook. She talks to her classmates via the Grade 7 WhatsApp chat group, as for the rest, she has Instagram.
Instagram is the new Facebook for teens, apparently
I have an Instagram account, but I hardly ever post anything or check it. That’s because I don’t really know much about it and only know how to post a pic from my phone.
Also there’s so much more you can do on Instagram
You can post or watch videos and even converse – to groups or one person – and Instagram will combine them into conversations. And if you download Instasave, then you can copy pics too…
…but so can creepy people
You see, the problem I have with Instagram is that anyone can see and like your pics and request to follow you (or just follow you anyway, if you don’t have any security settings). My daughter had about 500 followers and she doesn’t know 90% of them. She posted a pic of her favourite One Direction member and suddenly got another 50 followers.
If I were said creepy person, I could trawl Instagram for 1D fans: there are millions of them out there and I’m pretty sure 95% of them are teenage girls below the age of 18…
Important warning to parents: Make sure your child’s Instagram account is set to private: then only people he/she approves can see his/her pics and follow him/her.
The problem is that teenagers today gauge their popularity by the number of followers they have (like wannabe Kardashians) and can change their settings back to public at any time… unless you police their Instagram account every day in random spot checks…
If I were said creepy person, I’d trawl Instagram for 1D fans: there are millions of them out there and I’m pretty sure 95% of them are teenage girls below the age of 18…
Anyway, back to her (seemingly innocent) recent post
She went shopping with her dad recently and he bought her a new bikini for summer. It’s a fun, colourful one and not too revealing. We’re not prudes, but we don’t want her looking like a vamp either…
But what we didn’t know is that she took some bikini selfies and posted them on Instagram. I wouldn’t have known, as I’ve almost forgotten about my Instagram account, but her godmother in Durban is one of her followers.
She messaged me last week (we’re over 40, so we still use Facebook) and casually asked me if I followed E on Instagram.
I checked her posts and there were about five pics of her (complete with obligatory pout) on her Instagram account. The post has lots of likes from her followers, but how do I know who they are?
Difficult one this and calls for some subtle sensitivity
I don’t want to freak her out, but do I tell her that creepy people could be looking (and other unmentionable verbs) at her pics or do I just tell her to delete them and not give her a reason?
I don’t want her to think I’m checking up on her and don’t trust her, but aargh, we’ve HAD this conversation before and now we have to do it all over again! If she had just listened the first time…
That’s why I’m not a fan of social media accounts for children (and teens are still children)
Teenagers don’t have fully developed frontal lobes in their brains and can’t use discretion about what to share and what to keep private (and the consequences of each). The frontal lobes are involved in problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behaviour.
They post about fights with parents, and break-ups with boyfriends, and don’t realise that this info is in cyberspace forever. Even if they delete the post later, everyone has read it and someone may have saved it.
And what did I do about her pouting bikini posts on Instragram?
I left it to Dad to deal with. He’s a school counsellor at a high school and has a lot more experience dealing with teenagers. I did check Instagram later though and the pics have been deleted…