You are fourteen now.
Social media is one of those things that we need to teach you about, protect you from, and also pray about as you navigate these new waters.
Social media is a form of communication that is here to stay, but social media also has many flaws. We also know that YOU need to know about social media - how it works and how to use it appropriately and WISELY.
You've been asking your dad and me about an Instagram account, and we have decided this a good place for you to start. I know you see Instagram as a harmless site for sharing fun photos, but it can be so much more than that - good AND bad.
Here are 10 things I want you to know about Instagram:
1. What you post will ALWAYS be there.
A simple photo or comment may seem harmless and fun today, but be sure it is something that can stand the test of time.
Anything you post on Instagram (or anywhere online, for that matter) is there FOREVER.
Did you know that employers look at your social media profiles?
Oh, and 86% of colleges look at your profile, too?
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST.
If you want to post a picture, think about it -- maybe even for a few few hours - before you do it.
"The Internet is Forever."
2. Don't fall victim to comparisons
It's very easy to scroll through your Instagram feed and think that people have perfect lives.
You need to know that people generally post the BEST things on Instagram.
Don't fall victim to comparisons.
Please know that what you are seeing is just a brief SNAPSHOT of someone's life. Pictures can be enhanced and cropped - teeth can be whitened, and wrinkles removed.
You are beautiful as you are, and I would hate for you to feel bad about yourself because you spend too much time on Instagram comparing yourself to others.
3. MORE is not better.
These do not determine your self worth.
Your mood can and WILL be affected if you spend too much time checking Instagram and tallying up how many people "liked" your post.
Those kids you see with hundreds of followers? I wonder about that... putting yourself out there for the world to see is NOT safe, and it's just not wise.
Guard your heart. Guard your privacy.
Less is more.
4. NEVER share your location.
Never, EVER, put your location on an Instagram post.
Turn off your location settings on your device. (The latest Instagram update makes it SO easy for you to share your location, and we've gone over your settings so you are clear about this.)
I have shown you this video (while I don't approve of the tactics used) and hope it's enough to convince you your dad and I are serious about this one.
5. Share what you love and find beautiful.
I think if you follow this rule, you can never go wrong.
I was so proud of you when this was your very first Instagram post.
Your brother and your dog :-)
You have wonderful interests and so much that is worth sharing. An Instagram profile can be a beautiful snapshot of your life, and in some cases, very artistic.
Just remember... choose wisely.
6. If you don't know someone personally, do NOT let them follow you.
You may see teens with hundreds and hundreds of followers.
(Remember what I said in #3)
You and I have also noticed that A LOT of creepy, middle-aged men request to be friends with teenage girls on Instagram. This is the sad reality of the world we live in, and I hope this supervised use of Instagram is preparing you for "real" life.
Your account is PRIVATE for a very good reason.
Choose your friends wisely, just like in real life.
7. When posting something, ask yourself "Do people really want to see this?"
My sweet daughter, this is something YOU taught me.
In a world of so much noise and visual clutter, our words, pictures, and actions become meaningless if we sling them around without thought.
THINK before you post something... then think some more.
If you are posting something to IMPRESS people, your motivations are wrong.
We live in a world where so many teens (and adults for that matter) are crying out for attention - and the easiest way to get that attention is through social media.
Please, please think before you post.
And remember, we strive to be God-honoring in all we do. Yes, that even includes social media (ESPECIALLY social media!).
8. Bikini and Boyfriend Shots are Tacky.
Girls have no business showing so much of their bodies to the world. (I'm so thankful you have a father that has said NO to bikinis for his teenage daughter.)
You may think just your "followers" see the pictures, but that is not necessarily true. (Refer to #1)
Your worth does NOT come from your body, and it certainly does not come from having a "boyfriend".
We've had conversations about this one... so I don't think I need to say more.
9. Be genuine.
This one is so, so hard.
Most people put their best foot forward on Instagram.
YOU are beautiful. God created you in HIS image with special talents and gifts.
Don't ever try to be someone you are NOT - in real life and on social media.
If you have just a few wonderful friends who love you for YOU, that is worth so much more than 125 hollow Instagram likes on a post, or 1,500 Instagram followers.
10. Instagram DOES have benefits!
Instagram is such a great way to stay in touch with friends and family.
I love that you can follow your cousins who live far away, and that you can share your favorite photos with friends.
And, admittedly, I use Instagram A LOT. It's such a good tool for my blog and ministry in the homeschool world.
As with anything, you need to educate yourself, stay smart, and use this tool for the RIGHT reasons - not the wrong ones.
I am here to guide you and help you along the way.
Tell me YOUR thoughts about teens and Instagram.
Please keep the conversation civil and respectful. This is my "home" on the web and I reserve the right to delete offensive comments.