I’m not saying I’m completely innocent from these type thoughts but it breaks my heart when I hear a middle schooler say them. It’s how our culture and society is shaping the norm for Instagram. Our children and teenagers are growing up in an acceptance hungry world. Having under 100 likes on an Instagram is uncool and having under 50 is even worse. Pictures get deleted after 30 minutes, sometimes even sooner, if it’s not producing enough likes. “I’ll post it later when everyone is on Instagram, I’ll get more likes then.” Some children have more followers on Instagram than people they’ll ever know in their childhood. They will follow someone, unfollow them, follow them, unfollow them, follow them trying to get the person to realize they don’t follow them until they finally follow them back. Just for that one more follower. Did you know there are actually apps that you can pay for followers and you can pay for likes. There are also apps that notify you when someone unfollows you and I also believe some tell you who. That in itself creates unnecessary drama. Why does it matter so much who follows you and who unfollows you? Because identities are becoming Instagram names and how many likes you get, how many followers you have.
I love Instagram, don’t get me wrong. I’ll speak against Snapchat, Ask.fm, and Facebook for middle schoolers all day long but I truly believe if anything, Instagram is the most solid. It’s secure. And it’s innocent, if handled correctly. Make sure the account is private and your children know to only accept followers they know. So how do we get our middle schoolers and even high schoolers to realize your identity is not in your Instagram likes or followers?
Post two pictures a day! Post three! Those who mind, don’t matter; those who matter, don’t mind! They love seeing your beautiful face twice a day! So your picture got 98 likes, do you realize that means 98 people actually took the time to double tap your picture. I cannot tell you how many pictures I scroll across on my Instagram that I think are so cute but I forget to double tap the picture! You’ve got 497 followers and last night you have 502, what did you do wrong? Nothing! Guess what Jesus had 12, Hitler had millions. Just because someone has more followers than you doesn’t mean they’re better than you and just because you lost a follower does’t mean you did anything wrong.
How do we change this? I really do wish I knew the answer. These verses come to mind but I know there are so many others.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
Talk to your children about this. Pull out the Bible and show them what God says about their worth and their identities. Even though you did not have Instagram growing up, do you have examples from your childhood where acceptance and worth were pressured to be put into something else besides Christ? Maybe making the school sports team or the clothes that you could afford? Try to relate with them, that helps the most. If you don’t understand at all, reach out to someone who might be able to help you or just simply ask your child to help you understand why they feel the way they do about likes and followers. Help them understand your perspective and the Bible’s perspective on our worth. Don’t let them feel like you’re telling them what they’re feeling is wrong, just help them to understand their identity is meant to be in Christ, and Christ alone!