Instagram Guidelines For My Tween.
A Guide To Instagram From A Mom
I know I am not covering every situation, family dynamic, social situation as it relates to Instagram. There are CONSTANTLY extra work arounds, secrets, shadow apps, ghost sites popping up in relation to Instagram. That is the speed of the internet. These are the guidelines that this mom, and dad, have put forth for our tween to have an Instagram account. It is not perfect but it is what is working for us at the moment. This guide will ebb and flow with the changing spectrum of social media. I hope this gives you a bit of a guide as to what Instagram holds and how some of these guidelines might apply to you and your tween.
There I said it. My kids don’t have their own phones. I know many kids have phone for a multitude of reasons but my kids don’t have their own phones. We have been THOSE parents who say NO. They do have access to our phones, even have their own folders on our phones filled with space sucking apps but they don’t have a phone of their own.
You CAN make the account private. A private account won’t show up in search and each follower has to be approved before they can see the postings. BUT know that if you have a private account and then it is made public, EVERYTHING is public. Not just the images that are posted after the account goes public.
Before Instagram allowed multiple accounts, I had to log the kids into their accounts each time they wanted to scroll or post. Yes, it was a pain in the butt, but these were the rules of Instagram in our house. These were the steps we had agreed upon if they wanted the privilege of having an Instagram account. Now with Instagram allowing multiple accounts on one device it is super simple to flip between accounts.
No Real Names
My kids have usernames that in no way relate to their actual names. I take that back. My son has one that relates to his actual name but we are basically squatting on that username for when he wants to use it later in life. IF Instagram and Twitter are still around when he gets older. But the girls have usernames that look nothing like their real names.
Instagram does state that users do need to be at least 13 years of age to have an account. My husband and I are very well aware of this but we have ‘My mom is @sarahbmock and my dad is @bobmock and they are helping me post here’ in each of the kids profiles. We are letting Instagram know that we, the parents are monitoring these accounts and they are under our authority. And we DO monitor every post. We also let the kids know that we WILL be in their private messages and group chats. Instagram is a privilege and not a right.
By having these rules and monitoring in place we are hoping that we are helping them dip their toe into social media instead of throwing them in the social media pool one day. Not every rule and restriction is a guarantee that our kids won’t slip up or get hurt by social media. But we are hoping that by taking these steps we are setting them up for success and safety in the social media world.
Check Before Posting
No one is allowed to post an image without me or my husband checking it. We are the final filter before the images go live.
Here is what we look for:
Do Not Tag Locations
Instagram has the option to tag your location in the image. We do not allow them to tag themselves in the actual location at the time they are there. For example, if they post a photo by the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia they do not geo tag it until we have left the location. The world does not need to know where my kids are at every moment.
My kids attend a private school. They are not allowed to post images with them wearing their school uniforms. The uniform has the school name on it and we don’t need to be telling the world WHICH school they attend. There are crazy people out there. Just sayin.
The types of images the kids post even have a few ‘rules’ from mom and dad.
No images with:
- Tongues out.
- Duck lips.
- In bathing suits.
- In bedroom.
- In bathroom.
- With our house number or street name.
- That they wouldn’t want as part of their digital fingerprint.
If we are at an event such as #DisneySMMC I have them use that hashtag but beyond that I ask them to THINK about the hashtags they are going to use. WHO would be searching that hashtag and WHY would they be searching it. I want them to consider before they post.
Click the gear in the upper right hand corner on the profile page and you can see private chats. This chat is not in the regular Instagram feed and is meant for invited individuals only. Once a person is added to the chat they can not be ejected. The person added has to remove themselves. So be careful who you add to a group chat. I let my kids know that private chats are where a lot of bullying can take place and to be aware. Also they know that I will be in those chats checking what is being said. I have been known to take a screen shot or two and send it to parents to give them a look at what is being said behind the scenes. I encourage the parents to do the same and to let me know if my child is acting out of line as I am sure I do not catch everything.
Three Dots In Chats
If you come across three dots in a row in a chat that is something that has disappeared. Group members are able to send photos or videos that are only able to be viewed once and then they disappear. I let my kid know that nothing ever truly disappears from the internet. Assume that everyone is taking a screen capture of everything you do and say.
Now you decide. Is this a platform you want your tween on? Is this a way of stepping onto the social media pool without being tossed in? This article is not the end all and be all. It is just a guide to what this mom, and dad are doing to help their tweens navigate the social media world we all live in.
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