This post was written by my 12 year old daughter, Emily, who started on Instagram to follow my travels for work. She has grown up watching me use social media and wanted to share her perspective with parents and other kids.
Lots of tweens these days are clamoring for social media and the most popular app seems to be Instagram. Some parents don’t know how to use this social network and don’t know the dangers. Tweens are begging to begin their life online, just as they do in real life. The problem: just like any tween, they might misuse Instagram and be unsafe and vulnerable to trolls, stalkers, and catfishers.
Followers are a big thing when it comes to Instagram. They are like ‘street cred’ in the online world of social media and it’s often a competition to see who can accumulate the most. Ads that appear in comments or bios that offer “1,000 followers free” or “get 10,000 followers” may sound tempting but in real life, this is a way for spammers to get into your account or set a virus loose on your smartphone or computer. Clicking the link may be a way for you to say, “Here, have all of my passwords and data, free of charge.” Instead of you getting followers, it’s actually them getting all of your information.
People think that followers can dictate the likes on your pictures and it causes real stress. Who cares how many likes on your pictures you get? Who cares when your video only gets 7 views and 2 likes?
Likes and followers should not be what you live and breathe.
You can survive with the only 14 likes and 27 followers you have. It does not matter how many people ‘liked’ it because you should be posting things that make you happy or show who you are. Social media can be used to get to know other people and you should be who you are online because some people may not really know the real you.
On private Instagram accounts, you have people request to follow you. It’s like the aspect of Facebook where you must accept the friend request for them to see your pictures and Facebook wall.
When people follow request on Instagram, I know some who just want the followers and don’t care who it is. You should always be careful about who follows you. You would not like some stalker or spammer clogging your comments with FREE FOLLOWERS or GET NEW EMOJIS (Yes, those are most likely fake too). Also, the last thing you want is people trashing your reputation online.
These people are called trolls.
I know people who had to take down whole blogs and social media accounts because of trolls. They sit around (maybe under bridges) and say mean things, “Your kids are ugly. You look disgusting. Where do you live, THE TRASH?????” All of these mean things are what people take seriously. People can get arrested for trolling, harassment, posting libels, and threatening a person or one’s family.
On Instagram, you are allowed to join at 13, and at that age, the part of your brain that develops reasoning is not yet fully grown. The choices you make now might not be a smart decision in the future.
Everything online, whether you delete or not, will live on forever.
The internet will be there forever. The internet is not forgiving.
52% of companies check all of their employees social media before they are hired. They will turn away job applicants because they maybe had posted something inappropriate and since they posted it, they do not want those bad qualities representing the company and their employees.
People who follow you and you know in real life may not be the same online. People can take on whole new personality online and it can turn into a real problem. Just because they are nice in person does not mean they are going to be the same in the alternate-reality Instagram lives in.
In general, when it comes to approving follow requests, make sure you know who it is. If it’s someone you don’t like in person, it’s probably not a good idea to say ‘yes’ to their request. Plus, they might not like you either, and use your Insta feed for a teasing platform.
When it comes to following people back, it’s your decision. You may be really good friends with them and they are most likely a good person to follow. Don’t follow people just because you have to. It’s a personal decision and you should not feel that you are pressured. You should also make sure that you are having fun online and using social media can be a way to be inspired and a way to talk or see what other with the same interests you have are doing.