Like it or not, your tween is probably already obsessing over Instagram. Here's how to talk with your child about social media before they make an account, plus tips from Instagram's new "Parent's Guide" for keeping them safe.

By Nicole Harris
Twin Design/Shutterstock

If you thought you could coast when it comes to talking to your child about social media until she is well into her teenage years, think again. Even though kids under 13 aren’t technically allowed to use social media sites like Instagram, many grade-school kids are working around the system. In fact, the number of children using fake birthdays and a parent’s email address to create accounts on popular social media sites (whether they have permission or not) is a bit startling: 

According to 2017 research from Ofcom, regulator for the communications services in the United Kingdom, about 28% of 10-year-olds, 46% of 11-year-olds, and whopping 51% of 12-year-olds surveyed had a social media profile. That means instead of kickball, conversations at recess for your fourth grader may very well be focused more on who posted what on Facebook last night. Scary, we know.

There are no doubt perks to having kids the proper age connecting with their peers on social media. Platforms like Instagram are full of inspiration for kids to celebrate the achievements of others and be creative with how they express themselves. But parents should also be aware of potential exposure to cyberbullying and inappropriate content. Younger children in particular may not realize the consequences of their online actions, which may put them in compromising situations. These are risks that the popular photo-sharing app is taking seriously. 

Instagram recently collaborated with National PTA to create a new resource for parents called Know How to Talk with Your Teen About Instagram: A Parent’s Guide. The guide, which is available in print, video, and digital formats, encourages parents to take action when it comes to their child’s privacy, interactions, and time spent on the platform. The message: When your child is starting off on social media, it's important to monitor their behavior online. Make sure they understand the risks and benefits associated with the account.

But Eddie Ruvinsky, director of engineering at Instagram, says monitoring isn't the end-all solution. "It's really about making sure that you have trust and you have ongoing dialogue for any activity that they do," he says.

Here are a few tips to get you started when it comes to teaching your child good social media habits early:

Start Early

Ana Homayoun, M.A., P.P.S, a social media expert and the author of Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital Worldwho worked with Instagram to create A Parent's Guide, says parents should start the conversation around social media early. "Even if kids aren't on social media, many are online from an early age and using different websites," she says. "In my experience, kids aren't being informed about Instagram and other social media apps from their parents–they are learning from friends, peers, older siblings, and other influencers–so it is important that parents take an active role in encouraging conversations."

Make a Plan

"I encourage coming from a place of curiosity and ask open-ended questions to help children identify why they want to join Instagram, what they think a positive experience on Instagram would look like for them, and who they could turn to if something feels uncomfortable and doesn't go as planned. Doing so allows them to proactively think about how they would define and create a positive online use experience," says Homayoun. She suggests using the the three S's–healthy socialization, effective self-regulation, and overall safety–as a guide for framing the discussion.

Prioritize Privacy

"A lot of people don't always know they have the ability to be private on Instagram," says Lori Malahy, research lead at Instagram. Turning your account on private mode means that only approved followers can view, comment, and like your content. This could prevent your child's personal information from ending up in the wrong hands. Take a cue from Dan Zigmond, director of analytics at Instagram, who required his kids to have a private account and personally know all their followers.

Enforce Good Etiquette 

Receiving mean comments on social media can hurt a child's self esteem – and writing the comments can get them into trouble. Talk with your child about proper social media etiquette, and utilize the tools outlined in Instagram's resource guide. For example, the app lets you filter out offensive or inappropriate words from your comments.

Set Time Limits

Tweens are still developing self-discipline, so it's not unusual for them to spend hours on social media platforms. Work together to determine an appropriate amount of time they should spend on apps each day, whether it's 15 minutes or one hour. You can also take advantage of Instagram's Activity Dashboard, which lets you control usage and limit distractions like push notifications. 

Teach Them Accountability

Cyberbullying is increasingly common nowadays. According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 15% of surveyed high school students were electronically bullied in the previous 12 months. Thankfully, Instagram lets users control bullying by removing hateful comments, reporting negative behavior, and blocking individuals. "One of the most important things I'd like my son to understand is that things that happen online can affect how people feel offline," says Ian Spalter, the director of design at Instagram. "It's really important for them to take that into account with whatever actions they take online."

Practice What You Preach

You know by now that kids are sponges, and they are constantly learning by example. By practicing positive social media habits yourself, you're setting up your children for a positive, rewarding, and inspiring social media experience. 

Check out Instagram For Parents: https://parents.instagram.com

Advertisement


Comments (3)

Anonymous
September 8, 2019
2 years ago I got to marry this dreamboat. We waited about a year before we stared trying to start our family but we always just assumed that that was next for us. I have PCOS so ever since my diagnosis when I was 23 I had been so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have a child of my own. It was just fear and feelings that was always there. Needless to say, things didn’t happen their own. I was not even having period on my own, let alone ovulating , so we went to see my regular lady doctor who thought we should start working with RE sooner than later considering the severity of my PCOS. We met with our RE and we decide to give it six months and lose weight and then see what was next. I lost about 45 IBS within that time and that’s when we started the normal stuff. Drugs which led to IUI’s which inevitably led to IVF. My first round of IVF was successful? I hate saying that because it really wasn’t. But I did get pregnant, I actually never got excited. I lived in constant fear and almost constant bleeding which I kept being told it’s normal, we ended up suffering from early miscarriage. I just remember feeling desolate and empty and shattered, I couldn’t understand why this happened. I was so disappointed because I never expected it so a friend of mine told me about the newly fertility center also ADOPTION HOME my husband never agreed to adoption. With the name MCDONALD CHILD ADOPTION AND FERTILITY CENTER that I have to register with them online, that after my registration I will only hear results. No stress, No visiting everything to time provided I trust them that their services a very affordable and no complication that I will only visit for my embryo transfer after everything is ready, firstly I was in doubt because of my first encounter, but when I contacted them, they make me understand so many thing I decided to give them a trial, money was not my problem I paid the necessary bill to them. Although we were not from same country but distance is not the problem because am visiting just once as we have agreed, they also have agent in my country for checkup. To say it all everything went successful. The MCDONALD CAFC did what others were not able to do, they treated me perfectly and work according to how my friend told me. My Baby its 3 months old today, we now have child of our own, don’t ever lose hope keep trying, the MCDONALD CAFC can never disappoint you because my situation was critical. You infertile contact MCDONALD CAFC via email info.mcdonaldcafc@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page @mcdonaldcafc. Am happy I now have my own child. For any question contact at nellylucia431@gmail.com they also offer adoption service at lower cost.
Anonymous
September 8, 2019
2 years ago I got to marry this dreamboat. We waited about a year before we stared trying to start our family but we always just assumed that that was next for us. I have PCOS so ever since my diagnosis when I was 23 I had been so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have a child of my own. It was just fear and feelings that was always there. Needless to say, things didn’t happen their own. I was not even having period on my own, let alone ovulating , so we went to see my regular lady doctor who thought we should start working with RE sooner than later considering the severity of my PCOS. We met with our RE and we decide to give it six months and lose weight and then see what was next. I lost about 45 IBS within that time and that’s when we started the normal stuff. Drugs which led to IUI’s which inevitably led to IVF. My first round of IVF was successful? I hate saying that because it really wasn’t. But I did get pregnant, I actually never got excited. I lived in constant fear and almost constant bleeding which I kept being told it’s normal, we ended up suffering from early miscarriage. I just remember feeling desolate and empty and shattered, I couldn’t understand why this happened. I was so disappointed because I never expected it so a friend of mine told me about the newly fertility center also ADOPTION HOME my husband never agreed to adoption. With the name MCDONALD CHILD ADOPTION AND FERTILITY CENTER that I have to register with them online, that after my registration I will only hear results. No stress, No visiting everything to time provided I trust them that their services a very affordable and no complication that I will only visit for my embryo transfer after everything is ready, firstly I was in doubt because of my first encounter, but when I contacted them, they make me understand so many thing I decided to give them a trial, money was not my problem I paid the necessary bill to them. Although we were not from same country but distance is not the problem because am visiting just once as we have agreed, they also have agent in my country for checkup. To say it all everything went successful. The MCDONALD CAFC did what others were not able to do, they treated me perfectly and work according to how my friend told me. My Baby its 3 months old today, we now have child of our own, don’t ever lose hope keep trying, the MCDONALD CAFC can never disappoint you because my situation was critical. You infertile contact MCDONALD CAFC via email info.mcdonaldcafc@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page @mcdonaldcafc. Am happy I now have my own child. For any question contact at nellylucia431@gmail.com they also offer adoption service at lower cost.
Anonymous
September 8, 2019
2 years ago I got to marry this dreamboat. We waited about a year before we stared trying to start our family but we always just assumed that that was next for us. I have PCOS so ever since my diagnosis when I was 23 I had been so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have a child of my own. It was just fear and feelings that was always there. Needless to say, things didn’t happen their own. I was not even having period on my own, let alone ovulating , so we went to see my regular lady doctor who thought we should start working with RE sooner than later considering the severity of my PCOS. We met with our RE and we decide to give it six months and lose weight and then see what was next. I lost about 45 IBS within that time and that’s when we started the normal stuff. Drugs which led to IUI’s which inevitably led to IVF. My first round of IVF was successful? I hate saying that because it really wasn’t. But I did get pregnant, I actually never got excited. I lived in constant fear and almost constant bleeding which I kept being told it’s normal, we ended up suffering from early miscarriage. I just remember feeling desolate and empty and shattered, I couldn’t understand why this happened. I was so disappointed because I never expected it so a friend of mine told me about the newly fertility center also ADOPTION HOME my husband never agreed to adoption. With the name MCDONALD CHILD ADOPTION AND FERTILITY CENTER that I have to register with them online, that after my registration I will only hear results. No stress, No visiting everything to time provided I trust them that their services a very affordable and no complication that I will only visit for my embryo transfer after everything is ready, firstly I was in doubt because of my first encounter, but when I contacted them, they make me understand so many thing I decided to give them a trial, money was not my problem I paid the necessary bill to them. Although we were not from same country but distance is not the problem because am visiting just once as we have agreed, they also have agent in my country for checkup. To say it all everything went successful. The MCDONALD CAFC did what others were not able to do, they treated me perfectly and work according to how my friend told me. My Baby its 3 months old today, we now have child of our own, don’t ever lose hope keep trying, the MCDONALD CAFC can never disappoint you because my situation was critical. You infertile contact MCDONALD CAFC via email info.mcdonaldcafc@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page @mcdonaldcafc. Am happy I now have my own child. For any question contact at nellylucia431@gmail.com they also offer adoption service at lower cost.