Here are my very unscientific and unofficial rules for following your tween/teen on Instagram without coming across as too “stalk-y”. These rules (or guidelines really) are what seem to work for me!
1. DO follow your teen on Instagram
This one is kind of a no-brainer. If you don’t do this I guess you can stop reading now, as the rest of the list depends on it. You’ll have to sign up for an account yourself, find your child’s account (have them show you if you can’t find it!), and click the Follow button. If they have a private profile (recommended!) they will have to accept your request. Once you are following, you’ll see the types of photos or videos your teen shares with her followers. Keep in mind you might not see it ALL if they share privately with friends.
2. Keep your comments to a minimum (but liking is cool)
I try to keep my comments to a minimum on my daughter’s posts. If I want to comment on something she has shared, I usually do it the old-fashioned way – in person. However, I will sometimes “like” a post which seems to be appreciated. In fact, often if I don’t “like”, she will ask me to go take a look!
3. Follow her friends, let them follow you, but ask about it
I follow a few of my daughter’s friends on Instagram, and a few of them follow me. Most of them have private profiles (yay!) so they had to “accept” my request. I also have a private profile so when I receive a request from my daughter’s friend, I will allow it. However, sometimes I’m not sure about following back; in general I ask my daughter if she would mind. Again I don’t comment on her friend’s posts, but I will “like” a post from time to time. Often her friends will like my food pictures; this helps me decide what to make for dinner when they come over to our house
4. Take a peek at the “Following” tab
The “following” tab is where you can see what posts your friends (those you follow) have liked or have commented on. This gives you a bit of insight into the content your kids are seeing, liking and commenting on. You won’t see everything; you’ll only see when they have liked or commented on a public post; that is, a post from someone with a public profile. You may find anything from nature photos, celebrity mishaps, friend’s selfies….and if you come across anything questionable, you can bring it up in conversation with your child.
5. Take a look at her friend’s list
Click over to your child’s profile and take a look at her followers, and who she is following. Don’t recognize a name? Click that profile and take a look. These lists could be very long depending on how long your teen has been on Instagram – 100, 200 or even over 300 followers is not uncommon. I’m not sure if I even know that many people! Keep in mind that mixed in with school friends, sports friends, camp friends, dance friends, Lego league friends, and acquaintances, your teen is probably following their favorite bands, actors, celebutantes, and sports heroes. Every now and then I’ll ask my daughter, “how do you know so-and-so?” but I try not to make too much of a fuss about it. At times I’ve suggested unfollowing people if I’m pretty sure she doesn’t really know them. Think about the number of posts per day if you are following over 300 Instagrammers! That’s a lot to keep up with.
So those are the rules that work for me….your mileage may vary. Leave a comment and let me know what works for you!