The Effect Of Instagram On Our Children

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It's December 1990. I've had too much to drink again and can't even put myself together for a photo in front of the Christmas presents just to appease my family.

My mom's begging me to get my life together, my dad's in the background screaming "she's never even been to Arizona!"

I'm yelling back, "you don't know my life!!!" And my sister's crying because I stole her metallic heart necklace again.

It must also be noted that you can tell by my shorty short bangs that I probably had another bad run in with chewing gum- the type of gum that is lime green and shredded into little pieces so that even young children can feel the joy of chewing tobacco. Big League Chew was my kryptonite.

I use to have a lot of addictions. The early 90s were a hard time for me. Just a few weeks before this photo was captured I fell down the basement stairs on a late night rampage wearing my mom's high heels and shattered my bottom teeth.

I know all of this because it's well documented in our family photo albums. My mom was a photo fanatic before it was cool to be a photo fanatic. You know those beautiful families you see on Instagram these days? (i.e. blogger families.) That's not at all what our family albums look like.

The Wolfe family photos are the good, the bad, and the ugly. Mostly the ugly. Because back in the day you had to take and develop 100 photos just to try and get one where everyone looks half way okay. And since the photos were developed already you might as well put those in a photo album according to my mom. She didn't spend $12 for nothin!

And I'm happy she did because I like to look back at all of the bad photos. Seeing that train wreck of a toddler that I was makes me think, hey I'm not doing that bad as an adult after all, at least my skirts fit me now.

But in the world we live in today only the pretty photos exist because the messy ones get deleted.

When the Instagram kids grow up how are these supposed to feel even remotely okay about adulthood when they look back at their beautifully filtered photos from childhood and realize they were in their prime at age three?

Seems like a tough pill to swallow.

Especially the little blogger kids. Their entire life has been filtered thus far. I feel like that could be a weird conversation when the kids grow up and have to ask their parents why they were filtering their photos to make them look better at age two...

It's nothing against you, Eloise. Your skin just pops a little more when I use Valencia.

But I digress.

I just often wonder the effect Instagram might be having on kids. Hell, it turns me into an insecure teenager more times than I'd like to admit. But maybe they're growing up with a thicker social media skin since they've been around it their entire life? Maybe they're not.

Who knows. My Instagram is basically just all dog accounts now anyway.

I guess I'll end on this, what are your thoughts on kids growing up in this beautiful artificially filtered world? Think it might be taking a toll?


  1. I think our generation is in a unique position to have been on the threshold of the Internet coming of age and becoming the force it's been for the last 10, 15 years. I definitely didn't have the Internet in college, I wrote research papers by reading WHOLE BOOKS. Now, you can share a Vine of Drake dancing to the Frasier theme song faster than you can write an entire research paper using Google Scholar and Wikipedia. We get to stand back and marvel at the artifacts of out lives - the film strips our photos were developed off, for instance, and card catalogues, and childhoods without Instagram - and appreciate both. I feel bad for these kids, though.

  2. hmm. I like to post pretty pictures and I also like to see pretty pictures. I think my main problem, especially for kids, is the overtly sexualized images that they will no doubt encounter. that's not just instagram, it's everywhere. and there's really no way to get away from it, like you could when we grew up.

    We also have weird, horrendous family photos. But i think it's okay not to share every little thing on instagram. at least, that's not what I think the app is for. save that for a facebook photo album.

  3. Never thought about this! I love the embarrassing gawky weird photos from my youth. Now, babies and kids have legit "photo shoots" and are Photoshopped & airbrushed into oblivion. The "flaws" are the best part! I'm glad I don't have Valencia-filtered pics as a kid....although, I'm definitely glad they exist now. Whatever.

  4. Wow, good point! I have many, many photos of myself as a kid that look just like this, and I usually hate to look at them because I'm like, "God Mom you made me look so ugly" haha. Horrible haircuts and ill-fitting christmas dresses. And thinking about it, I am so guilty of deleting all the bad pictures I take now. Not to mention "editing" out the flaws....forehead acne This was kind of like a good wake up call to knock it off a little bit. Especially with the kids (that I don't have yet). I think those blogger kids are going to be a little messed up for many reasons, but this is definitely going to be one of them. I think as normal (future) parents, we can choose to scale back on the perfect photos and save them that trauma at least.

  5. very interesting perspective on this that I haven't though too much about as a parent. I enjoy seeing the raw pictures from my childhood! I'm a picture hoarder, so I haven't deleted out the bad pics yet :) Maybe I should keep those around for my daughter to enjoy when she gets older!

  6. It's really interesting to see the difference between the way I grew up and the way my sister is growing up now. She's 13 years younger than me and still very much a kid. I had the giant family photo albums and weird pictures like you, but she is growing up in a world where we take 20 photos on our iPhones and post the best one. I never really thought about it before, but that definitely can't be good for kids' self-esteem. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    The other thing I really dislike about how pictures are shared and saved now is that it's all digital. My laptop crapped out a few months ago and I lost 3 years of photos of my family (most importantly my sister in elementary school and me in my last years of college). I hadn't posted most of them because they were just special to me and my family and it really sucked to realize that I no longer had any of them because I forgot to back up my stuff. It's way too easy to lose it all and I miss those giant albums.

  7. This is something I never thought about! Makes perfect sense! My family albums are also filled with bad haircuts, clothes, and facial expressions. It does make one wonder what the albums (if they even exist) will look like for my friends that have young children now. Very thought provoking post :)

  8. I love that you wrote this because I feel like I've thought about this way more than I should. I am a complete oversharer when it comes to my dogs but I have a pretty strong feeling that when it comes to my human kids (if I ever have them...big if) my postings of them will be few and far between and also definitely on the more candid side. And I won't be dressing them like they're mini-adults.

  9. It's not just the fact that kids are being filtered, but also the fact that they're having every moment of their lives documented across every form of social media. Our parents just used to share pictures with their families and close friends and then a Christmas card every year to people they weren't that close with. Now everybody on your social media accounts knows everything about you and your kids.

  10. I can't even think about how this stuff will affect kids, I'm not even sure how it affects me.

    Her Heartland Soul

  11. I never thought of this, but it's completely true. If I didn't have all those horrendous and awkward pictures what would I blog about now? It's thanks to my mom's photo obsession I have prime blogging material.

  12. I was just saying how happy I am to have grown up when I did. There was so much less technology and I think that was a good thing. I spent summers outside making forts and having water balloon fights. In the winters we made snowmen. We spent tons of time outside. And I developed my love of reading because when you're stuck on a family road trip for 12 hours books were all I had.

    Kids these days. Their world is way different.

  13. I just wrote a post about this when my 14 yr old sister-in-law went to homecoming. Are you kidding me? She would kill herself if pictures of her, looking like I did ended up on the internet. Life is hard lol

  14. You know, I never thought of it that way! It's totally true. There are some horrible pictures of me in family albums that would have never been if I lived in this day & age...oh, the things this generation will never know. It's sad, really.

  15. This is part of why I made the decision early on that I wouldn't post photos of anyone under the age of 18 on my blog. And it's very limited on my social media. The only place I share photos of my nephew or of my bf's kids or my friends' kids is on Facebook, where the privacy settings are very strict and I don't edit first.

    Sorry. I just made it sound like I am kind of bitchy and think I'm better than anyone else. I totally don't. This is just a decision I made a long time ago and I'm glad I did. Because life is messy and crazy.

  16. This is a really good way to look at it actually. Oh what a world we live in, way different from when i was a kiddo
    XO Ellen from Ask Away

  17. My family are like yours. They've kept photos of me where I look not-so-great and even sent a few to relatives and family friends, much to my embarrassment. Then again, they'll be surprised if they ever meet me in person.

    I've noticed the widespread sharing of photos publicly. It's a huge difference nowadays from my childhood, with how people share photos of themselves online for everyone to see and not only themselves but their children, often with personal info attached (names- even full names, location, etc.).

  18. I'm just glad Instagram didn't exist when I was in college. :)

  19. I find it so weird what is the norm for kids these days. Like the 6 year old girl I nanny for was modeling her back-to-school clothes for her Mom over the Summer and said "Can you put that on Facebook. I want to know how many likes I get." I mean... WHAT?!

  20. This is so true! There are so many awfully embarassing childhood photos out there for me but all of the future kids will never know what it's like!