Partnering with Parents: Instagram & Social Media Safety

Dear Manitou Parents,

Manitou has always taken great pride in partnering with our parents and the entire Manitou community. We hold many Manitou Cares events at camp and in the city, bringing in guest speakers to discuss pressing issues surrounding our youth.  A few years ago, a renowned physician from the US joined us to talk about the concerns and risks of social media and how to place appropriate controls on your children at a young age.

“TECH FREE ZONE- the best connection is right here.” This reminder, posted all over camp and on every cabin, was the theme of Summer 2018 at Manitou. Most of our campers will admit that they love being able to check out of the instant communication world and talk in real time. It lowers their stress levels and allows them to be engaged in the world around them. That’s one of the many things that makes camp so great!

Though social media has, undoubtedly, become a large part of our world, cyberbullying is a very real problem. Instagram in particular, one of the most popular platforms, has a significant flaw: users can set up accounts at any age without verification of identity. Imagine how easy it is to set up a fraudulent account using someone else’s name and photo and send out messages under this assumed identity? It is important to know that Instagram has no legal obligation to investigate fraudulent accounts to see who created them, leaving users without any recourse.  This form of identity theft or slander can also occur by hacking into another user’s account. In fact, we know of a few cases where someone else assumed a Manitou camper’s identity without permission. We urge you to continue educating your kids about digital awareness. Make sure they know to be aware of concerning content on their Instagram feed, understand that it may not be from the person they think it is, and know that its always important to question anything they see that doesn’t seem right. Please encourage them to come to you if they receive alarming or negative messaging, even if they are embarrassed to talk about it.

It is easy to forget that online actions have real world repercussions, especially for a child. When kids have multiple Instagram accounts, not only are they likely spending too much time on social media, they may also be representing different versions of themselves to a wide audience, unaware of the potential negative impact this could have.

Kindly take a few minutes to read the article below. It’s a rapidly changing world and while you may be aware of what your kids are doing on social media, it can be tough to keep up. We encourage you to keep the dialogue open about the risks surrounding social media and don’t be reluctant to let your child know that placing limits on their technology use is healthy.  After all, that time away from social media is one of the reasons why camp is so great, let’s remind them of this and work together to make social media a positive space for everyone.