Middle Schoolers and Instagram Don’t Mix

There was another new story recently about someone at a local middle school misusing a social networking site to bully fellow students, this time Instagram. Which begs the question, at least for me: why are middle school aged kids  allowed on such sites in the 1st place?

I work with kids this age a lot; in my counseling practice, and also especially in my retreats and camps for middle school girls, who are the biggest users of such sites. And I just don’t find girls this age to be mature enough to use them. It takes a ton of impulse control that they don’t often possess.

And it is no different than how hard it is for girls to not gossip or talk behind other people’s backs and spread dramas at school. The dramas played out on sites is just an ugly and pervasive extension of what is happening in real life. But with less filters, and in their minds, less accountability.

They have enough to worry about and handle and sift through from their normal school days and weekends. Why add this other huge layer of potential drama? They need time to get away from it all; to breathe, to let their hair down and not have to worry about how they look or impress everyone. And there are other ways for them to stay connected with their friends.

If I was a parent of a middle school girl or boy, I would have them wait to get onto social networking sites until they were at least in high school, and they would also need to have a long track record of responsible behaviors on other electronics.

Let me know what you all think.

Comments

  1. I completely agree! I could not be more pleased that my thirteen year old daughter has absolutely zero interest in social networking. We’ll encourage that for as long as we can.

  2. Kids need to have social networking to keep in touch. If they are out of touch that keeps them out of the social loop in school and in middle school that is social disaster. Half of my daughters middle school friends (real people she knows in real life) don’t even go to her school and don’t live in our neighborhood. Nobody goes to neighborhood schools where I live so social networking is the way they keep in touch with friends (and out of town family). The kids she hangs with are pretty mature but we (the parents) are always talking to them and keeping track of their online activity. Also, when I’m at work and my middle school is home I keep in touch with her with texting but also on Facebook. She also is going to start contributing to my blog. You need to be involved with your kids when they go online and share that experience with them. You need to let them know that you trust them and let them know you need to keep that trust. Talk to them about it – not at them. That said…some kids I know got suspended from school because of not so nice Instagram posts. It all seemed innocent and funny at first but soon involved threats and hate talk. They get caught up in the drama without even realizing what they are doing. Know the laws and talk to your kids about being stupid online.

  3. I would like to how to successfully keep them off something like Instagram when literally all of their friends have accounts. I completely agree in theory and, in fact, my 13 year old daughter “lost” her account for a couple of months for not using it well and was much happier during that time. She couldn’t keep track of who was doing what or feel left out of the activities that she was other girls doing – much less stress for everyone in the family! But she also wanted to go back to it when the timeout period was over. I do monitor all of her activity on everything – I have her passwords and check all of her accounts every few days. But how do I keep her from something that everyone else has?

  4. Laura, 1st of all, you always have the right to say “NO!” That said, if she handles it appropriately and follows whatever boundaries you have negotiated with her, then she will have proven she is mature and responsible enough to handle it. Sometimes you have to make decisions that are not popular with kids, but you have the benefit of experience and the long term view of things that they don’t have. I do understand how kids can feel out of the loop if they don’t have all the latest technologies, but they can get more creative to stay in touch with what is going on. And they do need times when they are unreachable and unplugged.

    • Laura Weeks says:

      Thanks for the response. We do say no quite a bit – she is the “ONLY” one in the entire 7th grade not to have a smartphone yet! So any social website she can only use in the house which helps with monitoring. And I appreciate your point about proving herself responsible, she has been working hard at it and she understands the consequences. What bothers me most about instagram in particular is it sometimes contributes to isolation rather than alleviate it. A bunch of girls are doing a particular thing on a weekend and everyone can see who is and isn’t there. It is a continual balancing act and learning curve as a parent.

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