A Guide to a Family Instagram
By Annette Damien, Middle School Social Media Instructor
During this time of social distancing, social media has taken on a new level of importance for teens and adults alike. For some, the world of social media is daunting, while others struggle with an appropriate balance when it comes to recreational screen time. Our young people need guidance when it comes to navigating the vast landscape of social media platforms.
As we begin a new school year in distance learning, families may be hearing announcements from program directors at both the middle and high school levels, urging students and parents to follow our many social media accounts. But with our youngest Eagles at the middle school level (many not even eleven years old) who have not reached the recommended age for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok, how can our youngest students stay connected? My advice to parents, set up a family Instagram account. When creating an Instagram account for the family, parents can monitor privacy settings, determine which accounts are followed, and review comments being made. A family Instagram account will also allow parents and guardians an opportunity to:
- Set guidelines
- Model behavior
- Stay connected to the school community
Whether a passive bystander or an avid contributor, our young people are using social media to reach out for connections in an isolating world.
Parents may struggle with finding an approach to modeling social media habits with their teens. Creating a family Instagram, especially when used to follow school accounts, can help establish norms and create positive habits for social media use.
In the 2018-19 school year, Chaminade hosted guest speaker, Joe Beckman, who, in his upcoming book, Just Look Up: Five Life-Saving Phrases Every Human Needs to Hear, explains his approach to modeling social media behavior with his children. According to Beckman, the first step is to create three non-negotiables. Rules that are “no matter what” guidelines. One example may be “No technology at the dinner table.” This rule applies to all members of the family, even the adults. A second suggested guideline is “No screens after 10 pm.” Whatever the non-negotiables your family may decide on, the importance is to take a no-exceptions approach, choose guidelines that promote a healthy balance of technology, and hold each other accountable. Not only does this practice prevent arguments, or at least lead to short-lived arguments (“Our hands are tied- it’s a non-negotiable!), but it establishes norms for the family that models habits for teens to apply later in life.
Beckman also writes about the importance of creating connections with our youth, and meeting them where they are. Creating time and space to share passions with our teens allows for deeper connections within your own family and understanding how media impacts your teen. Perhaps your next family event could be selecting a favorite YouTube video to share, learning a trending dance, or creating a Minecraft together.
In the fall of 2019, Chaminade welcomed Kim Karr, national guest speaker, educator, and founder of #icanhelp (I can help delete negativity). For more tips on how to take a “common-sense approach” to assist our young people in becoming digital citizens, parents and adults who work with youth can enroll in a free course (click here to register).
Digital media, whether it is streaming shows, social media platforms, or virtual gaming, is not going away. Chastising media as evil or unnecessary prevents meaningful conversations regarding the benefits of connection, content creation, and networking.
Once a family’s Instagram account is created, parents and students can decide on the appropriate amount of scrolling time to receive updates from campus accounts and other accounts. Selecting who to follow as a family also creates an opportunity for family discussion about appropriate content. What we follow and like says a lot about our family. Choose wisely.