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Should my 13 Year Old have Instagram?

19 Jan should my 13 year old have instagram

Each time I asked my 13-year-old daughter what she wanted for Christmas, her answer was always the same: Instagram.  Every time she said it, my heart sank.  I told her it was just about the one thing I could not in good conscience “give” to her.  Instagram doesn’t feel like a good gift.  It’s the complete opposite–it feels like much would be taken away from her.

Her time.  Her attention. Her contentment.  Her presence of mind.  Her self-confidence.  Her brain-development.  Her relationships with her siblings.  Her sense of wonder in 3D world.  Her innocence.

With all that, you would think this decision is a total no-brainer:
not no, but HELL no.

Yet was so hard for me to say no for one big reason: kids these days are using Instagram for their primary source of messaging.  I do NOT want to cut my children off from their friends.  But—am I in a quandary?  Is this truly a difficult dilemma? 

When I stare at the laundry list of cons, why does that one solitary “pro” even appeal?

Giving our young kiddos full access to smartphones and social media goes against so much common sense.  We know it’s true.  Yet as parents, we are all tempted to just roll over.  Why?  It seems like the old “if everyone else jumps off the bridge, are you gonna jump too?” …on a societal scale.

The temptation to just go ahead and jump off this bridge feels so strong…it feels like we are being pushed and overrun in a stampede toward…toward what?  Why is everyone else jumping?  Why are so many of the other 13-year-olds on Instagram?  Honestly, I want to know.  If I need to be softened in this area, I am asking for counsel.

My children’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being is the principal concern of my adulthood.  If Instagram threatens that, why is this decision so difficult?  My husband and I have put loads of energy into maintaining our kids-on-media game plan.  It’s a team effort…and it’s been a painfully unpleasant parenting challenge to draw a line in this sand.

Why is it hard?  For one thing, it feels like a deprivation.  And, perhaps I am projecting my own subconscious/latent fear of missing out.  Also, these devices buy us so much quiet, imminent peace and space–but at what cost to their growth?  Giving in, and giving them over to their juvenile longings is easier than listening the begging.  It’s also easier than feeling bad for them. 

Since I have said no to Instagram, I am digging for as many yeses as I can.  I gotta get creative!

My generation of parents have an infamous reputation for helicopter parenting.  But it’s crickets in this area.  It’s bananas.  Are we so busy looking at our own screens that we can’t be bothered to take measures to protect our babies from device and social media addiction?  Are we ignoring common sense because it’s inconvenient?

I have asked my friends about their standards for their kiddos’ smartphone/social media use, and I’ve gotten such a mixed response.  Generally, other parents’ main point is that their kids need to be able to call/message them.  Really?  That’s kind of a weak argument.  They need a smartphone for that?  There is a phone in every human hand: my kids can get a hold of me instantly, anytime.

And the fear that kids need to be up-to-date on technology?  Um, iPhones don’t take very long  to master.  I’m pretty sure they’re intentionally devised to ensure we all stay sheep…the whole scheme is set up so that we won’t have to apply a spark of brain energy to operate them.

It does, however, take years of deliberate coaching for a child to reach social and emotional maturityUnless…I find something on the app store that can advance a child’s self-control, identity and character. 

Man, when that exists, then I guess we will all be home free.
Until then, it’s still on me.

But this is good work.  It’s a long game, but not that long.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Hear my heart: If you don’t feel convicted against your children using Instagram, I understand.  These things are personal and I don’t believe one size fits all.  BUT, if you are like me and you do feel a personal conviction about this…I had to let you know–you’re not alone in holding the line.




P.S.  We’ve not completely cut the kids off–they do have access to devices, but we have substantial boundaries in place.  I can let you in on the strategies we have chosen in a post to follow, if anyone is interested.


Consuming or Creating? Choose Daily.

10 May

I think I broke about three molars when I was pregnant with my fourth and fifth children.  My need to crunch ice is a more reliable indicator of pregnancy than a positive test.  I go from zero to get-me-an-ice-rink at the moment of conception, and it does not stop until I pull up the mesh undies.  Maybe it was an iron deficiency, so I turned to liver meatballs, (actually quite good!).  Upside = calorie-free snacking option.  Down side = broken teeth. 

Why why why someone did not buy me an Opal nugget maker, I will never know.   (FYI the ice machine is about the best maternity gift you can give an expectant mother.)  Instead I had to chew on the huge, superfrozen hunks that my big machine dumped out every hour, and yes.  The ice drawer ran out every day.

This is a really dumb anecdote to say that I am not used to

having to go without what I want (ice),
when I want it (every minute),
even if it is bad for me (I can no longer eat popcorn without pain on teeth numbers 2, 15, & 16 respectively). 


It’s not a groundbreaking statement to say that we’re in an era of unprecedented consumption–often with no concern for personal hazard.  I’m talking everything: food and drink, social media, streaming TV and movies, grocery delivery, Audible, Amazon, me-time, all of it.  We don’t even have to go a day without the right kind of ice anymore! 

Right in the comfort of our own homes, we have access to everything.  We just sop it all up, right now.  Sometimes I end a day of hours of mindless consumption and wonder, “Am I dumber today?!” 

The very process of consuming is inherently addictive.  We keep coming back for more.  It puts us into a mindset and a cycle of fear that we will miss something if we don’t continue looking under every rock to see what we can get.  We look and search and then strive to consume.  Consume.  Consume.   Is it fear of missing out on the next morsel?  It definitely points out our hardwired, innate “me-first.” 

All this time spent consuming squanders time we could be creating.



My sister got me really thinking about all this when she wrote about it a few weeks ago:

 How many moms (or dads, for that matter) are baking bread? How many of us sit at a piano and sing? And lord knows, I have no business holding a needle and thread. But the more I pondered the suggestions, the more I realized how few opportunities I get in my day to simply create.

Instead, I spend a lot of my time consuming. I go to coffee shops and order food to eat that someone else prepared. I watch television. I listen to podcasts. I scroll through the news. And social media. I scroll and scroll. And scroll. Most of the time, I am a consumer.

For much of human history, culture encouraged and life necessitated creativity. Elite classes were tutored in  painting, music, singing and sewing. Even the poorest Americans cooked their own food, built their own furniture, hung their own laundry out to dry. Kids built forts and created little universes in their imaginations while playing House or Store or School. 

Creativity is a practice in leadership. 

Now, we look for others to follow, simultaneously envying and imitating their success.



Does over-consumption rob us of some of our humanity?  When we consume more than we create, are we missing out on an essential piece of our purpose here on this beautiful planet?  I believe that we were made to create.  It is one of the privileges of being God’s image-bearers.  Creativity may even be requisite for feeling valid, significant, effective, feeling alive.  


As an army spouse, a multimom, and especially while living abroad in a remote duty location, I’ve had the opportunity to take a very sober look at my day-to-day existence.  I don’t have a career to fill my time.  Watching after the small children is really mundane.  Living outside of my normal society has isolated me.  All 3 of these things meshed into a perfect storm of emptiness and sometimes despondency (shameful admission) as I try to make each day feel like it mattered. 

In an effort to escape, or in the name of convenience, I consume.  But it doesn’t scratch the itch–I want more to show for all this.  

Meaning is found in creativity; i.e. creating.  Creativity does not have to mean innovation.  It just means putting your hand to something, and having something to show for it.  I am brainstorming and here is a very short list of ideas.

  • Scratch your child’s back
  • Painting fingernails
  • Piece together and consolidating 5 outfits–hang them in the closet so that they are ready to go
  • Make love, in the truest meaning of the phrase.  
  • Handwrite a note or a journal entry
  • Make an old recipe/Try a new recipe
  • Exercise (this creates the 10 physical skills)
  • Take a walk on a new route
  • Host a small gathering around your table.
  • Read aloud to someone
  • Plant seeds

here is Claire’s list: 

  • Bake something to give to the neighbors
  • Pull out an instrument you used to play, or learn to play one
  • Write something that you don’t share
  • Take photographs on a real camera, instead of on your phone. Print them out.
  • Read a book (preferably a paper one).* (I call this creativity, because it requires imagination, rather than simple consumption. And since reading is a creative endeavor, I imagine that’s why reading rates have gone down. Consuming is easier)
  • Rearrange the furniture in your house
  • Create a new game to play with your spouse
  • Tell a story that you invent, rather than reading from a children’s book

Some are small, some are more substantial/time consuming.  Some are simply everyday activities–therefore, we don’t really count them as doing anything special.  That’s inaccurate.  A lot of the boring stuff in your day is actually creativity, and you’ll see its value if you purposefully take notice…

It is for human touch.
It’s for authentic experience.
It’s for spiritual connection.
It’s for progress.  



There is a pressing need to model this kind creativity for our children to compel them forward into their own creativity.  

There is no program for this, no scheme to buy into.  Just go.  Creating is moving forward.  Don’t consume, put forth.   

How are you putting your hands back into creative pursuits? 

Thanks for pointing this out to me, Claire.  



spontaneous tea party

teach your kids to make dinner rolls…recipe to follow 🙂

Interact with Creation…spend time in 3D world

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