4 Lessons My Instagram-Loving Tween Taught Me

Photo by MJ/TR

My twelve year-old daughter is very smart. Lest I forget, she reminds me every day. Sadly, she’s not sure about my smarts anymore. She points to the fact that I just took my first Instagram picture.

“Late adopter, Dad,” she says shaking her head. “I never thought I would say that about you.”

I finally signed up for the photo-sharing site last week after Casey Neese told me how Heifer International is using Instagram to connect with supporters. Heck, I only blog, tweet, Facebook, link in, and pin. I have plenty of time for another site. My daughter assured me I’m missing out on the best site of them all.

“Really, sweetie?” I ask. Tell me why.”

Lesson #1: Mobile only.

“The best part of Instagram is that you can only use it on your phone,” she says. “It keeps out all the old people who are still using desktops. I want to talk to people when I’m out, not when I get home. Do you know how long it takes our computer in the office to warm up?” she adds with an eyeball roll that would have won her gold in London next week.

Lesson #2: Entertain me.

“I like these challenges they have on Instagram,” she says.

“What do you mean challenges?” I ask. “Are they games, contests?”

Showing the patience that only a tween can have for an adult, she explains: “Dad, they’re challenges. Like one I’m doing now that has me posting a different picture every day for the next month.”

“Who created the challenge, Instagram?”

“No. One of my friends did,” she says rolling her eyes. “That’s why I don’t understand about you tweeting so much. What fun is that?”

Lesson #3: Pictures rule.

“I love looking at all the pictures my friends post,” she says. “I also follow Teenager Posts. They have funny sayings and quotes. To post text on Instagram you have to first put it in a picture. I use this app called JusGramm to post words with a font and background I can choose. It makes my words pretty.”

Lesson #4: I pick.

“I can post pictures any way I want, like and share other pictures I see, talk to my friends and use emoticons,” she explains.

“I know you say I’m too young to be on Facebook but I really don’t care anyway. Facebook is to talk to auntie, not friends. What would I post on Facebook? Tell a stranger I’m at StAHHHbucks like you do?” she says straining to imitate my Boston accent.

She looks at her phone. (I’m losing her, I think to myself.) “Gotta go,” she says.

“Where to now?”

“Up the street. Caroline just posted a picture of her dad doing something crazy with a tree in their yard. I have to check it out.”

“When you coming home?”

“Soon,” she says. “I’ll text you.”