I think a lot about how I want my daughters to grow. I want them to be uniquely themselves, but I also want to raise them in certain ways. I want them to have compassion and be kind. I want them to have good communication skills and unwavering confidence. I have stuff that I wish I had known when I was younger that I want them to grow up knowing all along. I thought I would drop some of those things into a “Things I Will Teach My Daughters” series.
This one is on Instagram. I would like to start off by saying, I love Instagram. It is my favorite social media platform, I love keeping up with my friends, and even getting sucked into that never ending rabbit hole that is the explore page. However, it is a dangerous beast. I listened to a podcast once that had a 13 and 14 year old girl come on. They discussed the politics of Instagram posts and friendship. How if your friend doesn’t comment and like your selfie almost immediately, then you assume they aren’t your friend anymore. How how many likes you get on that selfie determines your popularity or sometimes worth. And the ridiculous unwritten rules went on and on. Now, I know not all teenagers abide by these politics, but the point is they’re out there. Likes do equal worth to a lot of people. There is no denying that this app can be detrimental to a young girls mental health. I am a 29 year old mom, and sometimes I feel crap after staring at these perfectly dressed families traveling to exotic places.
I worry about my girls and this app, but I’m still going to let them use it (or whatever the big thing is) when the time comes. My girls are only 3 and 5, so in the next how ever many years I have I want to prepare them. I want to prepare them by building their confidence in being different. I want to prepare them by teaching them to see the beauty in the world and to turn the camera around. Selfies are fine, but the point is to be somewhere that is worthy of taking a picture of, or to be with someone that is worthy of taking a picture of. Sure you can share a picture of yourself, because you’re beautiful too, but you can also share the beauty that you see. I want to prepare them with the power of communication. Talk to someone if Instagram is making you feel awful, whether it be due to jealously or trolls or number of likes or whatever. I hope my girls will talk to me; I will ask them about it often. I want them to know their worth deep in their souls before they ever sign up for social media. I want them to see these other perfect looking girls with perfect looking lives and enjoy those pictures, because they are confident in their different-ness.
Instagram can be useful and interesting and even a great opportunity, but the point is for it to be fun. The point is to enjoy being on the app, and I want to prepare my girls to know that if at some point it isn’t enjoyable, get off. Go be with the people that love you. See the beauty in the world around you, and remember what’s real.