I love Instagram. It’s my new favorite social media obsession. But perhaps all my “Wait, wait, let me Instagram this” has come with a price.
Now my ten-year-old daughter wants an Instagram account too. Apparently “all” her BFFs have accounts, and according to her, “It’s possible to set up an account as private so only ‘approved friends’ can see her photos.”
Oh, well in that case, okay!
Fortunately, this is one of those rare moments when I actually know more than my three children about technology.
So my “Aw HAYLE no” is not just a knee-jerk reaction, but a thoroughly researched explanation of why her Valencia-filtered dreams will have to wait.
Here are the top six reasons why my tween daughter shall not have an Instagram account anytime soon:
1. It’s Against the Rules
The very first item listed under Instagram’s Basic Terms of Service is that you must be 13-years-old to use it. Breaking these kind of rules is a slippery slope, particularly when kids with burgeoning senses of right and wrong are watching.
2. Privacy and Safety Concerns
Even if you set your child’s account as “private” and disable the geotagging feature (for the love of God…please do that!), it is far too easy for children to accidentally (or purposefully) change those settings, which can expose them to all kinds of dangers. There are also reports that since Instagram’s default setting is “public,” every operating system upgrade automatically resets private accounts to public ones. No thanks.
Even with private Instagram accounts, there is no way to shield users from seeing other people’s inappropriate photos or violent, hateful, disturbing comments. For example…
The photo above was one of Instagram’s recently featured photos on the “Explore” tab, which is easily accessible to all users.
At the time of this writing, there were 3,386,449 photos tagged with the hashtag #duckface.
I’m trying to teach my daughter that beauty comes from within; that being smart, strong, kind, funny, and unique is beautiful; and to have the courage to stand up for what she believes even if everyone else is doing something she feels is stupid or wrong. This is the exact opposite of the message she will get from being visually bombarded by three million duckfaced selfies.
Even though the terms of Instagram prohibit abusing or harassing other users, ask any mother of a teen girl on Instagram about cyber-bullying and you’ll hear stories that will turn your stomach. A recent article out of St. Louis quoted a middle school-aged Instagram user who wrote, “I take pictures of people from ladue and if your ugly you’ll get posted!” (sic) There is also a popular activity called #EliminationGame where users publicly eliminate “unattractive” followers.
6. Ginormous Dicks All Up in Your Face…Both Literally and Metaphorically
Instagram is riddled with nudity and adult content, which are nearly impossible to avoid.
The other day I did an Instagram search about my state, Georgia. All I wanted to do was strategically tag my pretty photos of a local waterfall so that other interested travelers could find them, and as I was scrolling through the #Georgia photos, I was treated to this random full-frontal:
Hubba hubba. And I thought everything was bigger in Texas.
So parents, beware. Get to know the social apps your kids want to use. And don’t be afraid to say no. I guarantee your kids won’t be the only ones without Instagram accounts.
Also, for a good time, try #Georgia. Clearly, we’re more than just The Peach State.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published June 27, 2013. My daughter is now 12-years-old now and she still doesn’t have an Instagram account. Featured image credit: iStock.com/CraigRJD.
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