As students begin to explore Instagram privately with their peers, modeling its safe use as adults is paramount. In our classroom, there is a large emphasis on appropriate media use of any kind using this simple poster. --->
I would like to outline some tips that parents can follow to promote positive social media use at home, too. The following tips are designed to help you:
- form a stronger understanding of your child’s activity online
- create open discussions surrounding positive social media use at home
- consider online safety as children post their own photos
- encourage children to interact positively with peers online
Discuss the importance of internet safety & checking in with one another on a regular basis. Having conversations that are open & progressive builds a trusting environment around the topic of social media. Your child should feel comfortable approaching you with what is going on in their digital worlds no matter what their age.
2) Private Accounts (recommended) vs Open Accounts
As a majority of elementary students are well below the legal age to hold their own social media accounts, I strongly recommend to keep the account private. This means that only people that they approve to follow them can see their posts. This is a quick and easy way to keep an account a little more secure from any prying eyes that you don’t want looking in.
3) Check in with an adult before posting
Some of the major issues with kids on social media are over-posting and posting inappropriate photos. They don’t realize that what they share is linked to their account and their name forever. All it takes is a simple screenshot -- snap! -- and that moment can be saved by anyone! When it’s in the hands of someone else, the original poster can no longer control how that image is shared.
A solution to this is to have kids check in with an adult before they are allowed to post images. This way, you’re always aware of what your kids are posting, and the trusting relationship around the media continues. Some parents even have their child provide a reason why the post should go up in the first place. This is also an area where each child can abide by your house rules - some parents are more comfortable with faces + names in images and captions, and others are not so. Make it work for you and your family's beliefs.
Check in on those areas that we often don’t check: followers and following. You can discuss whose photos they can view on their feed and who is allowed to follow them. For some great educational follows and cool image sharing accounts, check out these Instagram accounts to get started.
5) Yes, READ their direct messages
It might feel like an invasion of your child’s privacy, but if your relationship is truly open around the topic of social media, this should be an easy one to explain. Direct messaging is where your child has “private” conversations. Remember, to a child this may seem exclusively private, but NO online conversations are ever private! A simple screenshot can take one little message WAY out of context. A good rule is to never post anything that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with their grandma or grandpa reading!
6) Set a schedule for checking in on your child’s account… with them there!
Sit down to have regular discussions with your child about how they’re using Instagram as a social media and why. Again, the more frequent and open the conversations, the more likely your child will come to you if any issues arise in the future.
How are YOU using social media? Is there some questionable content on your profiles that you might not want them to see? Consider cleaning up your accounts to show what appropriate use and positive digital citizenship look like. Take time to delete posts you don’t want widely shared. You never know when your child might Google you; I know they’ve Googled me!
I truly hope this helps parents to build an understanding around the safe and appropriate use of Instagram in the home setting. If you have any tips that you would suggest, or if there’s anything I missed, please do not hesitate to comment below.