One of the first items expressly stated by Instagram in its Terms of Use is that, “You must be at least 13 years old or the minimum legal age in your country to use Instagram.” Nevertheless, there are more and more minors using this platform, who have not reached the minimum age yet. True enough, the age at which access is granted to mobile or electronic devices seem to become lower as years progress. This access is granted mostly by family members. Oftentimes, it happens because of sheer lack of supervision. Along with this access, of course, is the possibility of using social media platforms and other mobile applications that are otherwise, not for minors.

What situations are present in the family environment?

  • Parents who oppose their child opening an account on Instagram and do not authorize it, because they consider it inappropriate and even dangerous.
  • Parents who assume that their children are digital natives and that it does not make sense to deny them new technologies, because they are part of their usual environment. They do not object to Instagram.
  • Parents who do not know Instagram, but understand that their child uses it. They do not oppose it.
  • Parents who tolerate, with objections, that their child open an account without taking part in the social network.

Do you identify with any of them?

Before continuing, let me tell you that digital natives are not born. They are made. I do not believe in the concept of “digital natives”. What’s more, I could almost say that I distrust the term. Why? Because being born surrounded by digital devices, and growing imbued with new technologies does not mean that a child will automatically know how to use these things well.

In my opinion, it is not enough to know what the purpose of an electronic device is, or how to use its basic functions. Because what is important, what is essential, is not the what or how, but the WHY. And children are not simply born knowing these things. They learn from their surroundings.

So what now?

Some people advocate installing Parental Control systems or some such safety programs in their children’s electronic devices. They are supposed to be very effective in blocking children’s access to digital content which can be unfit for their age. But they don’t work, do they? I know. Why? First, because it is impossible to install parental controls on all devices available to children. We cannot disregard the fact that children can also handle mobile devices lying around the house. These devices are normally owned by adult family members like the mother, father or siblings.

Second, because if you do not want access to inappropriate content, the only really effective measure to observe as an adult is to be with our children (either beside them, or behind them) while they play or use the Internet on their mobile devices.

And third, because I am in favor of learning to detect and identify when a content is not suitable, and having the confidence to tell our children. Because it is important that they understand, as soon as possible, that certain things they see on the Internet are not suitable, and therefore, should not be consumed. Above all, they should not be GENERATED. You have to sit with them, navigate with them, and teach them to discriminate.

Mind you, this is not a question of intimidating, frightening or scaring away minors from the online environment. On the contrary, the objective is for them to learn to cope with confidence and with enough common sense to ensure that they are always out of harm’s way. Sooner or later, they will have to learn how to do this, with or without your guidance. So what better way than to start early, right?

And when they begin to open profiles in social networks, what then?

  1. Make them understand that having more social media followers does not mean that they are better people. Not more popular. Not more interesting. Not even if their peers think otherwise. Not even if they tell you. And that having less followers does not make them any less of a person. Make them realize that their importance does not depend on the number of followers they have, and it certainly does not depend on others. Their self-worth depends on themselves.
  1. For the same reason, getting more or less likes in a post does not imply that our children are better or worse. Explain that getting likes on social media platforms depend on many factors. And more importantly, that not everyone can like their posts in the same way that they cannot like everybody else’s.
  1. Teach them that there is no need to keep an eye on notifications constantly. Moreso, it is not convenient. It must be they who decide when and how to connect, and not the other way around.
  1. Explain that they should not do or say on social media what they would not do or say in the offline world. That being behind a screen does not enable or authorize anything that they would not say face to face because it’s still them, even if its on screen. Technology does not endorse impunity, nor does it give any extra rights.
  1. Show them that what they publish and share are registered and can be reused and/or forwarded without end, including (or especially) their photos. And that these posts can the reach ears (or the newsfeed) of people they might not want knowing.
  1. Insist on how important it is to respect others and behave with them as you would like them to treat you. An online insult hurts just as much, or more than one which is shouted out loud, even if the silence seems to hide it.
  1. And now, before you continue, reflect upon yourself, Is everything discussed here clear to you? Are you certain?

Well then, let’s talk about Instagram.

What happens with Instagram?

As you may have already deduced, I am not in favor of prohibiting our children to open their own social media accounts. It is just that these things should be done with the utmost discretion. I advocate for a tutorial and a teaching process on how to use the application, because it is the beginning of their first contact with that social network. And because we are still dealing with children, who are not teenagers yet, we should absolutely take advantage of their eagerness and openness to what we have to say.

  • Explain that the download and installation of apps have to be monitored. Children should not have the possibility to readily download the applications they want. The download and installation should be done with adult supervision through a secure Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, they should also be given supervision as they create their social media accounts.
  • As long as it is a child’s, the profile must be private. Because it’s the only way you can control who sees your content, and who can interact with your children.
  • Warn them not to accept followers they do not know. It is the online translation of: “Do not talk to strangers.”
  • Keep in mind that Instagram is not just a photo sharing application. It’s also a chat and instant messaging tool. Any and all kinds of communications flow through there.
  • Open an account and follow them. This enables you to be with the, to be on the alert, and to help them if they need it.
  • Encourage them to think about what images to share. They should understand that selfies are not always the best option, that to decide on what to photograph is also to adopt a different view of what surrounds them. Put them in focus. Create responsibly.
  • Play with them and Instagram. Take a picture and play with Instagram’s editing options to see which style is more to their liking. Go out on a “photographic walk”. Challenge them to think about images around a specific topic.
  • Make it clear that no one should ever feel threatened, frightened or humiliated on Instagram or any social media platform. The best defense is always to notify (the parents) as soon as possible.
  • Explain that they should not under any circumstances send, let alone publish, any kind of intimate or compromised images. Not even if they are asked to. Never.
  • Let them know that on Instagram, and on the Internet, it is very easy for other people to invent a personality and pretend to be someone they are not.
  • Remember that the use of mobile devices must be regulated. There should be times, schedules, places and circumstances of use. And remember, children copy patterns of behavior. If they see you on your phone all the time, what do you think they will do?
  • Ask them to let you know if they find a profile or content that makes them feel insecure, suspicious or afraid.
  • And if you need help … ask for it!

It is best to seek help from fellow Instagram users who advocate the same level of vigilance and alertness when it comes to the welfare of their children. Surround yourself with likeminded users while growing your own account through the help of our Instagram growth service. Sign up for our free trial today.

Instagram accounts to enhance your creativity

On the bright side, social apps can actually contribute to children’s creativity. And that side of the coin must always be encouraged. You can record mini stories, make collages, or transform photos into videos. But, don’t ever forget that the most valuable expressions of creativity that your children can experience will always come from real and tangible hands on activities. Let them smear their fingers with paint, play with brushes, invent stories thru dress up, and many many more! There is no limit to their creative capacities. Technology is just another instrument to help improve it.

Here, you you will find some Instagram accounts to help you boost your creativity.

@artbarblog – Bar Rucci is a graphic designer, teacher, mother and blogger, who teaches her Instagram followers how to make multiple artworks using recycled materials. She creates mobile hangings with recycled fabric, paper houses made of patchwork, bookmarks with wool and sculptures using paper mache.

@sandravandenbroek – This Dutch user’s Instagram profile specializes in presenting food using out of this world plating techniques! She builds faces, scenes, and representations which gives her dishes a completely different appeal. A welcome twist to gastronomy.

@artistic_unity_ – A compilation of very varied images and videos, always quoting the respective authors. Illustrations with 3D effects, handicrafts with balloons, sand drawings, step by step tutorials on mandalas, mini paper books, ceramic figures and the list goes on.

@ventunoart – Specializes in origami. The gallery consists of video tutorials that give you step by step instructions on how to make any type of figure with paper, using different levels of difficulty. Very practical and entertaining.

Get creative with handling Instagram for your children, but don’t forget to manage your own account too. If your aim is to grow your business or build a community, we recommend Simplygram to help you boost your profile and grow your Instagram following organically. Here’s a free trial to get you started.

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