Ten, 11, 12 years old. Most of them have hundreds of followers, some have public accounts, but all of their moms say, "I just can't keep up."
Parents understand Facebook. They know how to check in, update their status and share.
But now, their kids have moved on to Instagram—the photo sharing app—which often times leaves mom and dad in the dark.
Local 6 created a social networking experiment by interviewing six Central Florida moms and their kids. First, we separated the moms from their kids—in hopes of getting the most honest answers.
Then we asked the moms a set of six questions:
- Do you know what a ZERO SECOND NINJA is?
- How many followers does your child have on Instagram?
- Does your child have more than one Instagram account?
- Is your child’s Instagram profile private?
- Have you heard of the Kik Messenger app?
- Has your child ever had an exchange with a stranger on Instagram?
Then we excused the moms and brought in the tweens. We asked them the same six questions.
As you might imagine, there were some differences in the answers.
When we brought up the idea of an account being private or public, at least one mom was surprised to find out her child’s was not private.
“You said yours was private. I switched it. You need to switch it back. it should not be public,” she said.
Then other moms found out their kids had secret accounts.
“I should know if you have more than one account. What kind of account is it?”
Another mom asks, “How do you get more than one account when you only have one e-mail?”
To which her 10-year-old daughter answered, “You use random people emails.”
Yes, the 10-year-old used a total stranger's e-mail account which she created by using “a bunch of letters and numbers.”
Most people would think kids today would readily know what a stranger is, but we found the new world of social media has blurred the lines between ‘friend’ and ‘stranger’.
When we asked if the kids or their friends had ever had an exchange with a stranger on Instagram, they waffled unsure of the definition of stranger.
One young girl asked, “What about them? ‘Cause I didn't know them but through Instagram?”
We tried to explain that a stranger is a person you haven’t met face to face, but incredibly there was still more confusion.
Finally our social media producer jumped in to translate in teen terms, “An exchange would be like them liking a picture or asking to follow you, commenting on a picture,” she said.
To which the kids immediately answered, ‘Oh yeah.”
When we rejoined the moms for the discussion they were in disbelief.
It only makes sense that some followers on Instagram would be strangers because the tweens we interviewed have anywhere from 170 to 900 followers.
While some moms decided it's time to pare down this list, one mom said she does like likes the fact she gets to see how her daughter's real life friends really act.
“To your face, they're smiley polite nice kids then you see their Instagram account and you learn that might not be true,” she said.
And that is probably the most important lesson. Instagram is about being liked, no matter what the cost.
Which brings us to the zero second ninja question. These kids want affirmation and they want it now so they post pictures trying to get someone to like their photo in less than a second. That person who likes a photo that fast is a Zero Second Ninja.
Click Here for an online tutorial on how to use Instagram on iPhone and Android and how to block certain apps from being downloaded onto your child’s phone.