I spoke recently with a parent whose 10 year-old had learned about cutting from Instagram. In the past several months, I have heard of this happening several times. Parents, be warned. Your child may have an alternative Instragram, Twitter or Tumblr account. They create them under different names and post pictures that you never see if you’re only following them from your own phone or computer. You need to have your child’s password and be checking for alternative accounts, as well. They have accounts where they show literal photos of their cuts, or swap ideas about eating disorders or obtaining alcohol.
When your child signs up for any of these social media sites, they need you to help them learn what it means to be responsible. You can have veto power for who they follow and whose friend requests they accept. And follow up. We know you’re busy. We know there are many, many things you’d rather be doing with your time. But they need you to know. Or else they will find their way to things that you’ll spend much more time trying to undo than the proactive investment you’ll be making with your time and their hearts. We have more specific suggestions on monitoring social media in our book Modern Parents, Vintage Values. And join us next Technology Tuesday for the appropriate ages for social media!