Tag Archives: Instagram

Two parent presentations on digital parenting coming up in Montreal area

Interested in attending “Smartphones, Sexting & Social Media: Practical Strategies for Parents?” There are two upcoming opportunities in the Montreal area on February 13th and March 1st. While both are free, they do ask for RSVP.

Join me on either date for a practical discussion about what you should know when it comes to kids and digital technology, and what you can do to promote safe, responsible, creative and productive use of these wonderful tools.

  • Learn what it means to raise a “digital citizen”
  • Understand how technology use has changed the way kids socialize, do schoolwork and sleep
  • Set up effective household rules to complement what they are learning in school
  • Create and enforce reasonable limits on use of digital devices
  • Keep your kids talking to you about what’s on their mind and what’s happening at school
  • Build positive online “footprints” for future school and job applications
  • How to (mostly) stop worrying by being prepared.

Featured session for parents
(LCEEQ conference)

When: Monday, February 13th, 7:30 p.m.
How: (Click here to register by noon Sunday, Feb 12th)

Where: Sheraton Laval (click for Google Map)

Sklar LCEEQ digital parenting kids

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Trafalgar School for Girls –
session for parents

When: Wednesday, March 1st, 6 p.m.
How: Open to the public. Please RSVP here. 
Where: Trafalgar School for Girls, 3495 Rue Simpson (corner Dr. Penfield)
Montreal QC  H3G 2J7 (Click for Google Maps)

Trafalgar Sklar Digital Parenting Workshop

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Your kid wants an Instagram account? What parents need to know

Example of teen Instagram“Mom, can I have an Instagram account?”

Until very recently, Facebook was the first social media account sought by elementary school-aged kids aware that connecting with their friends on something more sophisticated than Moshi Monsters was a sign of teenage sophistication. This is despite the fact that Facebook guidelines state it is only for users aged 13 and over (any kid that can subtract 13 from the current year and tick off a box can get around this). And although Facebook is still very much alive and well with tweens and teens, the grandaddy of social media has tracked a decrease among its youngest users, with a significant number of kids as young as seven are turning to Instagram, Whatsapp, Kik and Snapchat for their first “grown-up” accounts.

Instagram is a picture-sharing social network, where users set up their own accounts, share images with followers, edit the images with different filters and digital effects, and share, like or comment on each other’s images. Instagram has enjoyed the popularity of the “selfie” (images you take yourself, usually with a smartphone or tablet device), and users enjoy how easy it to share pictures and video with a comment or two, mention other users so they get notified, indicate where the image was taken, and include hashtags (search terms preceded by a #).

Parents with children as young as seven or eight are fielding requests for Instagram accounts, as many first and second-graders have access to wifi-enabled smartphones, iTouches and tablets. It’s never been so easy for so many kids to be so connected. And while there is nothing inherently bad about a social media network like Instagram, it does open up a Pandora’s Box of concerns about letting kids on the Internet.

If your school-aged child is asking you for an Instagram account, here are some of the things you need to know:

-1- Instagram’s terms of use state that the minimum age for users is 13. For many parents, this ends the conversation. You can tell your kids that this is the rule and that’s that. There are good reasons for this rule, including safety, security, privacy and experience required to exercise good judgement. Click on the above link and look over the Terms of Use with your kid.

-2- You can’t unring the bell. All kids online are prone to stumbling across images of sex, violence and other kinds of mature content. You can install kid-safe search filters or search engines (like Google’s Kidzsearch or SafeSearchKids), but even preschoolers recognize the entertainment value of searching for YouTube videos (YouTube is second to Google as the world’s most popular search engine). Kids quickly recognize the appeal of scrolling through Instagram feeds, and may stumble across images they won’t be able to unsee.

You know your kid and your context better than anyone. You need to decide what s/he is capable of handling, how comfortable they will be talking to you about what they see, how much supervision you can offer. This is true not only for Instagram but all of their activities online.

Edit your profile Instagram-3- Keep personal info off the profile bio. They shouldn’t include their family names (even in their usernames), where they live, the name of their school or even how old they are. This image shows you exactly how to edit your profile (you can also click on the Edt. You want to make sure that a Google search of their name doesn’t turn up their account, for reasons of privacy and security.

-4- Help them set up their accounts. Even if you have no clue how to do so. Use Google like a giant user manual, search for answers to questions like “how do I configure privacy settings on my Instagram account?” Figuring this out together models for them the process of establishing safe settings, thinking about privacy and more. Soon enough they will be setting up their own accounts for different things without you, so it’s important to go through the paces and have these conversations when they start to go online.

Instagram privacy settings-5- Set their accounts so their photos and videos are private. This means only those who follow your child can see their images, and their accounts are not public. When an account is set to private, they will get a notification any time someone wants to follow them. They can choose whether to approve it or not. The image to the right shows what you need to click on to set this properly.

Understand there will be some pushback here. For many kids (and adults), social media is about the number of followers they can get, the number of likes they can tally for their images. Some kids promise in their profile descriptions that they will always follow back. Apps like Followers+ help them track and increase those numbers. It’s essentially a popularity contest, and many kids get very caught up in those numbers.

-6- Show them how to review tags. Your child should review when a friend tags them in a picture or description
(they will get a notification from Instagram). If they don’t like the picture or what is being said, they need to contact that friend to ask them to remove the tag and/or take the picture down. Every user needs to learn how to monitor mentions and images of themselves online. Instagram notifications

-7- Regularly review your child’s list of followers with them, and block any strangers who may have been inadvertently approved. Kids are very trusting of superficial identification. They don’t know that the person claiming to be a 13-year-old girl may be a middle-aged man, or that someone easily pass themselves off as a friend when they are not.

-8- Help them think critically about the images they post online. Start off by insisting that they can not post pictures of themselves without your permission. We started off with no pictures of themselves at all, then gradually progressed to one or two pictures that met with my approval. There are plenty of silly, harmless jokes, images of celebrities, sports figures and adorable puppies they can share.

9- Tell them they can not post pictures of friends without their approval (and their parents’ permission). Not everyone is allowed to have pictures of themselves on the Internet. They need to get used to asking permission before snapping pictures and posting them online. And not everyone may be pleased that you posted a picture of them looking silly, or less than attractive. Having an Instagram account means respecting others’ right to their own images. This is a conversation you need to have with them over and over again.

-10- Create your own Instagram and follow your kid. As your child to help you come up with a user name and profile description. Even if you have zero interest in having your own account, it’s important to have some idea what interests your kids.

Kids also love Instagram Direct – the private direct messaging service that allows them to interact with strangers and unapproved followers. Click here to read what parents should know about this option.


Hot or Not? Your nine-year-old is on Instagram

Beauty is skin deep

From Hollee Actman Becker http://huff.to/16sN8mj

A few weeks ago, I had one of those humbling, weak-at-the-knees parenting moments. Another mother was relating a story about bullying and miscommunication on Instagram when I realized her daughter was 10 years old. In fourth grade. Same age as my youngest daughter.

Instagram? For nine and ten-year-olds?

I panicked. Was my littlest girl on this picture-sharing social network. I had no idea. Me, the social media “expert,” totally unaware what my own kid was doing. Huh.

Truth is, this whole conversation took me by surprise. I had never thought of discussing Instagram with her. It never occurred to me that this was a conversation to be had with a fourth-grader. We were too busy talking about spelling words, long division, why she was now old enough to walk the dog by herself but not yet old enough for babysitting.

When her older sisters were in fourth grade four short years ago, all the kids had Nintendo DS games. No social networks. No “liking” and “friending” and “following.”

It seems a lot has changed in the intervening 48 months. Most of these nine and ten-year-olds have iPod Touches or iPads of their own. They use email and FaceTime and Skype without a thought. And though I don’t know of any of her peers who are on Facebook yet (though the average age in North America for a first Facebook account is 11 years old), it seems many parents either don’t know or don’t understand what it means for their children to be on Instagram.

This Huffington Post article does a great job explaining exactly what it might mean. Author Hollee Actman Becker uses one of the preferred analogies in my parenting workshop: “…letting your child have an Insta (you knew they called it that, right?) without teaching them how to use it properly is like buying your kid a car without teaching them how to drive.”

Exactly. We are handing them the keys to this incredibly powerful communication tool without teaching them how to use it safely, how to protect themselves and how to avoid hurting others.

Right now you are possibly wondering how anyone could really get hurt on a picture-sharing social network. Turns out there are many ways. Actman Becker describes the incredibly popular use of the site for beauty contests among tweens (especially girls):

See, right now, as I sit here typing this, there is a tween girl with an iPhone somewhere making a grid out of four pictures of her besties using Instacollage or Mixel or whatever cool new app is making the rounds this week (omg Juxtaposer is sooooo amaze!)

When she’s finished, she will post that grid on Instagram, and then write something along the lines of: BEAUTY CONTEST! VOTE SOMEONE OUT!

Did you just throw up in your mouth a little? I know I did when this whole thing blew up here on the Main Line over the weekend.

And I’ll get to that in a minute.

But wait. That’s not even the worst part. Because what happens next is this: People will actually vote for who they think is the least attractive in the comments, and whichever girl’s name is written the most will be awarded a big fat X drawn across her face.

Whether your child ends up with the X across her beautiful little face or not (or whether s/he is merely a spectator to this demeaning, reactionary kind of representation), it’s clear that kids are getting hurt. And it’s not their fault.

It’s ours. Because we didn’t teach them it wasn’t OK. Mostly because we didn’t know we had to talk about this with our fourth graders.

In my case, I resisted the panicky urge to call her school and have her brought to the office to tell me over the phone if she even had an Instagram account. (Turns out she didn’t – “Mom, you already told me I couldn’t have a Facebook account yet so I figured I couldn’t go on Instagram either.” Which officially makes this the first time this, um, spirited child has ever not tested me to the absolute limit. Shocker. And I don’t expect this miraculous compliance to last long.)

Moreover, the story from the other mom of a fourth grader that inspired this whole post wasn’t about these beauty pageants either. It was about how the usual social drama of ten-year-old girls gets exponentially magnified and distorted in an online world where clicking “like” makes you someone’s favourite friend or not.

But the whole experience taught me that for parents, the world is moving much faster than it used to. I can’t assume the digital experiences of my older daughters will be true for my youngest. A lot changes in four years. And it taught me that teaching digital citizenship needs to begin with our youngest kids as soon as they learn to click and swipe. Like teaching them about sex, drugs or alcohol, if you’re waiting for your kids to come to you for advice, you’re waiting way too long.

What parents should do:

  • Tell your child they need to ask for permission to open all social network accounts.
  • Make sure you have their username and password.
  • Review their posts and comments from time to time.
  • Make sure their account is set to “private” and geotagging is turned off.
  • Make sure they know to never, ever give out personal information like their real name, address or phone number? Many kids don’t think twice about mentioning the name of their school either, but that’s clearly a really bad idea.
  • Get your own Instagram account and follow them. You need to know what your children are doing.
  • Explain that they must never, ever post a picture that might hurt or embarrass someone else.
  • Explain that anything they post on the Internet is written in ink – it’s there forever.
  • Explain why they shouldn’t be posting pictures of themselves in bikinis or revealing bathing suits (yes, I know your nine-year-old still looks like a baby in her bikini, but there are a lot of ways that representation can be used to hurt her).
  • Talk to your child (girls and boys) about how those Instagram beauty contests are demeaning and hurtful. They are not just a silly game done just for fun. In a world where the Steubenville rape victim was further victimized for reporting her assault, where bullying victim Amanda Todd was judged by other girls as a “slut” for impulsively giving in to exhortations to flash her 12-year-old boobs at a webcam, these images have meaning.
  • Suggest your kids ways they can turn this around with more positive kinds of pictures (see image attached). Tell them to speak out when they see beauty contests promoted among friends and followers, and how being a conscientious objector can help them be safer, more respectful digital citizens.