I've gone back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth) over whether or not we should let our almost teenage daughter get an Instagram account. I love Instagram for many reasons and use it A LOT for my business. I love that it not only puts me in touch with friends and customers, but that it's such a great outlet to connect with other creative entrepreneurs. It is by far my favorite form of social media and I see a lot of good come out of Instagram. I use it everyday and love the community that I have found on IG.
I'm not 100% convinced yet that it's such a great thing for my children. I've heard heartbreaking stories about young girls getting their feelings hurt time and time again all because of an Instagram (or other social media) post. I've read articles and researched the effect that social media can have on a young person's self esteem and more than I'd like to admit, I've seen adults participate in social media tactics that can be hurtful to others. Last year, I attended a social media talk led by our Associate Pastor, who was the Youth Pastor at the time, and he shed some light on why we shouldn't completely rule out letting our kids be a part of this online world. THIS is the world they are growing up in. It's not going away...it's just moving along and advancing quickly. I think it is hard for this generation of parents to parent in regards to social media because we didn't have to deal with it at their age. I'm dating myself but when I was my daughter's age, life was all about Guess jeans and coach purses and the most "advanced technology" was three-way calling. Now it's hard to even keep up with all the apps that the kids are wanting and to stay on top of what's "in." I agree with my pastor though...we can't just hide from it. It's my job as a parent to decide when my kids are ready and to put some serious ground rules into effect IF and when I let them step inside the social media world.
I decided to sit down and come up with a contract. Yes, I'm that kind of parent. I thought of all the things that I think could be potential hazards and set out rules to guard against those situations. I decided I didn't want to just say "because I said so" though and for each rule, I went to God's Word to back up why we were laying those rules down for our family. I plan to sit down and go over these rules and really talk through these "what ifs" with my kids and if they aren't willing to sign their name on the line, then they aren't ready for social media.
I'm also sharing a free printable if you'd like an Instagram contract for your child. Admittedly, this contract is probably geared more for a girl because that's who I had in mind when writing it but it could work for your son too. Just tell him to disregard the hearts.