The other weekend as my daughter made her way to me after getting picked up from Children’s Church by her daddy she excitedly began telling me what she learned and how much fun she had. The excitement could be felt in her voice as she gave an account on how she had spent the last hour or so of her morning. She then shared with me that she had made a new friend. Her friend was 10 and had an iPod touch. She continued noting that her friend had an Instagram account and had given her Instagram name after taking a photo of the two of them.
These days nothing is private and with social sharing of photographs constantly occurring it’s very likely that our photos are floating around in a few places unbeknownst to us. And now that children, my daughter’s age, have iPods, iPhones, and other forms of technology in their possession they are doing some social networking on their own.
My daughter has my old iPhone and laptop but when she has it in her possession, despite the phone not being activated, we monitor her very closely. Several of her friends have an Instagram account (I also have one) and she wants one too, but I just don’t feel like she’s ready. Although accounts can be made private, I worry about the potential repercussions that can come out of allowing my eight year old to have access to what would appear to be a harmless way of sharing photos.
So here we are age eight, an age when requests for technology devices increase along with the desire to have the same things friends have, whether that is a cell phone or an Instagram account. So far my husband and I are saying no and we are sticking to it. I feel like there are so many things trying to pull my daughter away from the innocence that comes with being a child. I happen to be “friends” with some of her friends on Instagram and I know their parents are good about monitoring them, but for now I’d like to encourage my little one to be little. I want her to play, to draw, and to take in all the wonder that comes with being eight. Cell phones and social networks will come, eventually.
BMWK — What about you, do you allow your children any access to social network sites like Instagram and if not, at what age do you think it’s most appropriate?