If you are not familiar with Instagram, either you live in a cave or you do not have tweens in your life. According to the official Instagram website,” it’s a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.” How cool is that? It’s a harmless alternative for tweens other than joining Facebook, right? WRONG!
Instagram is social networking for tweens! The Dean of Parents needs to report to the Dean of Parents, immediately.
When other parents ask me if I allow my kids to have a Facebook account, I haughtily reply, “Absolutely not. We do not allow them to social network because they aren't ready to handle it.” Who in the hell am I fooling? Since joining Instagram, I might as well allow my tweenager to aimlessly roam alone up and down Chicago's 79th Street—or how about a field trip to the Englewood neighborhood---greeting friendly strangers with codenames like BIGBOY, DASEXY, HAWTGURL, and DUYUWANNA?
I decided to join. “Friend me on Instagram!”, I excitedly shouted to my tween. She gave me her flavorful tween-toned response with, “umm, you have FOLLOWERS on Instagram—not FRIENDS.” I'm proud of my codename, THECOOLESTBREEZE. I was forced to elevate my swagger status once I discovered COOLBREEZE was already taken. For a while, it was cute peeking at her little tween girlfriends posting photos of cupcakes, jewelry, shoes, and fun group photos of shopping mall excursions. But after returning to peeking after a brief hiatus, her followers magically grew from 7 to 307! Why are there photos of her in the bathroom mirror? Who in the heck are LUSCIOUSONE and NINJAMAN? And why are you asking people “follow me”. And since when did COVERGIRL become your best friend? Instead of liking a photo of a kid I’d never met with the photo caption that read “BESTIE” I commented: the word “Friend” is a special word reserved for those who earn it so be careful not to give it away to anybody.
My tween instantly became mortified. [Insert wicked horror-themed movie laugh here] I don’t give a damn about the tween's mortification on this issue. And folks, please know that I’m grateful she isn’t posting photos of her breast or photos with illegal substances committing illegal acts, which prompted us to take advantage of this teachable moment to avoid the aforementioned bullshit and discuss the seriousness and responsibility that comes with having a cell phone. Yeah, we admit opening the door to exciting adventures when we purchased that damn phone in the first place. But we had to provide a few ground rules. Here they are:
- No cell phone use after 9:00 pm.
- Phone will not be charged overnight in your bedroom.
- Instagramming on weekends only.
- We will monitor your use. If you don't like feeling mortified, we’ll gladly return the IPhone. (What were we thinking for buying our kid an Iphone is a future blog topic)
- Keep it classy. Your Instagram photos can be viewed by anyone—the girl you “forgot” to invite to your party, the Spelman College admissions officer, and my sorority sisters.
- Keep it classy #2. Tone is difficult to read through text messaging or Instagram comments.
- If someone posts a questionable photo, block the Instagram user. Pornography charges are slapped on people storing unquestionable images in their cell phones.
- When your parents send you a text, we expect an immediate reply—or else we’ll assume you are dead.
- If we find photos you've posted, on Instagram, during the timeframe we waited to receive a text from you to get a ride home, start praying that we are dead.
- The cell phone originated with a cool app that actually allows you to call your parents. Use it.
- If you are going to follow Nikki on Instagram, try having a friendly conversation with her the next time you see her in the hallway at school.
- No cell phones while with family or friends. We were born with the privilege and ability to verbally communicate.
- It is not cool to beg others to “follow me”. Be yourself and the rest will follow.
Please share your ground rules for monitoring your tweens cell phone usage. We could all use a little help in this area.