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My Daughter’s in Grade 7 and I Let Her Join Instagram — After Signing an Instacontract

Mar 28, 2019

OK, I cracked.

I let my kid join Instagram. 

Because honestly, I couldn’t take the whining anymore, since apparently my kid was the ONLY one in grade 7 not on it and it was like — literally — ruining her social life.

And more importantly, I wanted to launch my daughter into the social media realm while I still had some influence over her and could help educate her to stay safe.

After many hours of negotiations, where promises were made and deals were brokered, we came to an agreement and signed a contract in turquoise marker and taped it to the fridge. And with that, my baby was born into the digital world.


Relevant Reading: My Eight-Year-Old Daughter is On Instagram and I Like It


And I’m not going to lie to you: I did kind of think I aced this mother-of-a-challenge. I might have even given myself a little parental pat on the back. After all, I too am on what the kids call Insta. I’m hip. I’ve done the trouble-shooting required to keep this new found privilege from backfiring, right? 

Our carefully negotiated contract stated the following: 1) The account had to be private in order to protect her security. 2) She could only accept followers that she knew in real life. 3) I would vet any pictures she wanted to post to make sure they were appropriate.

So she started by posting some pics from a recent trip we took, some of her glorious tech-free days at camp and a couple of memes to mix it up. How adorable! Everything seemed to be going well, at first...

Here’s where things started to go south:


Live Streaming

The next week when she had a friend over, she casually mentioned they were going to go live from her room.

Um, live streaming? Kids live stream on Instagram? I hadn’t thought of that. As soon as I had given in and allowed her to be on Instagram, she was telling me she was the ONLY kid in grade 7 not allowed to live stream and it was like — literally — ruining her social life. Not only that, but fellow classmates were live streaming on school trips, at recess and at friends’ homes at lunch.

This clearly violated rule number three, because if the video was live, how can I possibly approve it before it is posted? The answer, I can’t. A clear no-go.


Direct Messaging

The next thing I knew she was in touch with all kinds of kids at school that she hadn’t previously talked to. It turns out that our idea of knowing someone was quite different. Suddenly it seemed like a million direct messages were flying back and forth from students that she didn’t really know. Instagram paved a way for kids to connect with new people. They seemed to follow and block each other at a dizzying rate.


Relevant Reading: Your Kids May Actually Think You Love Your Phone More Than Them


Stories

Feeling like I was quickly losing ground on this whole situation, I logged into my daughter’s account to find her posting Instagram stories. To be honest, even though I’d been on this platform for a couple of years, I didn’t really know what stories were. If you don’t either, they are quick little clips of video or pics with text that flash by at the top of your feed. Clearly, we hadn’t covered this in our contract as my kid feels free to post stories without my input.


Polls

And finally, my least favourite aspect of Insta is the online poll Tellonym, an anonymous means of sharing info like: Who is your crush? Who don’t you like? What do you think of your teacher? The pitfalls of such a platform for posting your secret thoughts are obvious. Again, this wasn’t covered in our contract.


Do I regret allowing my daughter to join Instagram? No, because I can’t hold her back from social media forever. And while some kids her age might not be allowed to join, I’ve learned that many have secret accounts without their parents’ knowledge. The upshot: I can’t control every aspect my kid’s online life. The only thing I can do to protect her is to educate both of us about the risk and rewards of putting yourself out there.

Oh, and we’re going to revisit that contract and make some revisions — and I’m getting out my red marker this time.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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