written by Kim W.
As a parent of a teenager, I have found myself many times getting preoccupied with what my child is doing on social media but not just what he is doing. I also find myself consumed with knowing what he is seeing. Thankfully, I’ve got a rare case of a child who really is not a big fan of social media. He is fourteen years old, and I don’t know any other fourteen year olds who feel that they can live without it. Now, having said that, he is a “lurker” since he only watches what everyone else is doing on social media. That is one of my concerns.
He is accepting Instagram followers and Facebook friends. He does not “post” but he does see what others are doing. I had to have a serious discussion with him about who he accepts as followers and friends, but until very recently, I thought we were done with that conversation. It was easy: do not accept friends or followers that you do not know.
Fake Instagram Accounts
I’m not talking about “finsta” here which are the “fake-Instagram” accounts children create and are intended to be super relaxed, laid back and used without any rules. These are the “public facing” Instagram accounts that they keep private from their parents. They have two profiles: a parent-facing profile and a non-parent facing profile or “finsta”. You can see the massive issues with “finsta” profiles. But what I’m talking about here when I say "fake Instagram accounts" are individuals who will create an Instagram account using your child’s name and image, start following and connecting with their existing friends, and therefore have the easy opportunity to open up a discussion with your child’s friends.
The parents of my son’s school participate in a “secret” Facebook group just for the parents of our school. A few weeks ago a notification popped up alarming me and many others in dramatic form. While we hear about things happening all over the planet, we sometimes still find ourselves believing “that stuff doesn’t happen around here”. Not true. A 6th grader’s mom learned that her child was being impersonated on Instagram, and the fake account had been connecting with other children in our school and having conversations with them. This is so not good, and it totally changed the conversation I had with my son. We had to talk with him about being pro-active about his ‘friends’ and truly knowing exactly who he communicates with, what information he provides and even texting his friend in real life to make sure that they are the same person as on the Instagram account. We can never be too safe!
I urge parents, to learn from what happened right here in my own community - one where we think nothing like this ever happens. Criminals exist everywhere, and they will go to great lengths to infiltrate their way into the lives of our precious children. No, we cannot ever be too safe or protective. Be sure you are signed up for email alerts when a sex offender moves into your area, but also teach your children the way they can stay protected on social media.