I’ve been making an effort lately to spend less time on social media. Twitterholic that I am, I find it just takes up too much time that I could be spending writing, enjoying friends and family in three dimensions, or participating in any number of real-life activities. Some days I’m good about this; others, I get sucked down the chirping rabbit hole and can’t find my way back for at least an hour. (Yes, I realize something’s wrong with that metaphor. On the other hand, it’s about Twitter, so anything goes.)
So why did I just join Instagram? It wasn’t because I wanted to add another social media service to my daily list of obligations. Rather, I joined because I’m a parent. To be more specific, my fourteen-year-old son, “Jack,” decided to get an Instagram account. As I told him, wherever he goes in the world of social media, I go, too. That’s part of the deal. So I found my way to Instagram.
Now, those of you who are shaking your head at my helicoptering, hang on a second. And those of you who are shaking your head because I allowed my son to venture into the soul-sucking world of social media at all, hang on a second. I believe neither of those characterizations to be true. Here’s how I view kids and social media:
First, at fourteen, Jack is still a kid. I know he thinks he knows how the world works, but in truth, there are still a few chasms in his knowledge, and that means I get access to his social media. This is for his own good. I don’t plan to read—or, in the case of photographs, view—everything he posts or that others post to any accounts he may maintain, but he needs to know I could look at everything at any time and that I occasionally plan to look at some of it. I won’t do check up on him because I don’t trust him. I do trust him, unless and until he gives me a reason not to. But he doesn’t know how to handle every situation, and I don’t trust everyone with whom he might connect. That’s why I need access. If a situation arises where I see inappropriate behavior or I see someone actually or potentially getting hurt, then I might intervene and/or impose consequences.
When I explained all of this to Jack, he raised no objection—either because he understood the rationale or he understood the futility of trying to argue.
So here I am with another social media account. I hope not to be there a lot, but I will stop by—just as soon as I learn how to use it.