Kids and Instagram: What Should be Filtered?

Instagram has become popular among parents, who take beautiful family photos and share them with the world. Johanna Derry asks five popular ‘Instamums’ why they love the app, and if there are any ethical implications regarding kids and Instagram…

The age of the mummy-blogger has morphed into the mummy-grammer; women who share pictures documenting their family life on Instagram. While there are plenty of celebrity mums using the social media platform, for many parents it’s a way of engaging with a wider, supportive community and an outlet for creativity. Here, five UK mums we think are worth following introduce themselves to The Early Hour, and discuss kids and Instagram (plus, they offer some tips for capturing impressive Instagram shots)…

Nina Callow – @callown – has three sons: Ollie, 12, Tom, 10, and Jack, 7.

Kids and Instagram: Callown

“I started using Instagram just over four years ago as a way of sharing pictures with my friends. I’d like to think I capture authentic and candid moments of my boys. Nothing’s staged, they’re just every day things that everyone’s children do. You can capture such beautiful moments of your children just going about their daily antics – reading a book, concentrating on a computer, eating their breakfast even. I’m always looking for pictures and my camera is always to hand. The challenge is to find new ways of capturing the daily routine, which let’s face it can get quite repetitive!

I share pictures with photography based forums using hashtags like #momswithcameras, #mom_hub and #nothingisordinary. Often there’s a daily theme and it’s a great way to challenge yourself to take a particular picture. This year, I have taken over the feed for an American photography blog, called Where The Boys Are. It’s a group of photographer mums who share authentic captures of their boys, at different stages of growing up. People tag us with #wheretheboysareproject and I pick images to share with our followers. We get the most amazing pictures shared to our tag and it’s very difficult to choose which to feature.

On my own feed I only share my favourite pictures, that I think other people will enjoy seeing and that I feel won’t embarrass my boys. I’m very careful about which pictures I share of my children. I would never share anything that I don’t feel comfortable with, or that the boys wouldn’t like. It’s important to be mindful that the pictures are public so I’d never share pictures of my children in the bath or in their school uniforms, for example.

One of my tribe is very camera shy and you will see there are mainly two children on my feed. I totally respect their decision. If they didn’t want to be photographed then I wouldn’t do so. But they’re very used to it and often totally oblivious!

I think any mum becomes very good at juggling the daily routine. For me, co-running my own children’s nearly-new business, I have very flexible working. I work from home and work during school hours only. Very early on we decided not to work through the school holidays and this really helps with the juggling act. After school, work takes a back seat until the children are in bed, so while it can be quite tiring, I find that the balance works well.”

Merlinda Little – @pixiedusk – has one son: Sebastian, six

Kids and Instagram: Pixie Dust

“I’ve been struggling with depression since last September, and started Instagramming in February. Because I was feeling gloomy I wanted to take photos that are happy and bright in the hope that my pictures might help to brighten someone else’s day. I’m proud of my son which is why I share photos of him, but I always ask him before I take photos and before I post them. He’s at that age where he can understand, and mostly, he thinks it’s cool that people like the photos of him.

My phone is old so I use a DSLR, partly because the pictures are better but also, because I can’t share in real time, I can keep my privacy. For example I can blur my son’s uniform logo, so I still have control over our safety and privacy. The beauty of Instagram is that there’s always something for everyone, and an audience for every photo. Taking and sharing photos makes me happy, the community is so loving and, though I still feel sad, having likes on my photos and being part of it has helped me feel better.”

Sara-Jayne – @keepupwiththejonesfamily – has three sons: Jensen, six, Lyoto, four, and Hero, two.

Kids and Instagram: Keep Up With Jones Family

“I joined Instagram in 2012 because It looked like an amazing community, and I thought it would compliment my blog brilliantly. It helps me because, with three boys under six, I can’t blog every day, but Instagram is like a teeny blog. I can still connect with people and I love it.

I’m a pale blue-sky, blush pink flowers kind of person and I love dreamy surroundings. Blue, grey and white would be my ideal aesthetic, but because I’m surrounded by boys (who I love), I have to rebel and get a bit of pink in there somehow. Still there’s plenty going on here that will never reach my gallery. Once we were at Walt Disney World, visiting the gazebo where we got married. Cinderella’s ponies were being led past and I was so desperate to capture the moment, but one of the ponies wouldn’t stop going to the toilet. No one wants to see that from a fairytale pony!

There are so many evenings when our boys treat us to some ‘entertainment’ that makes us laugh so hard, and we wish we could share it. But usually at least one of them is prancing about in their birthday suit.

My husband is a software engineer and very practical. We spoke at length about having the boys in public on social media and the considered risks. We’re respectful of our boys – if there came a time when they didn’t want to feature, or if something changed which made us feel wary or uncomfortable about the way things are, we would discuss it again. My boys are still of the age where they love to see their face on our blog and they understand that people see it. You won’t see any bottom shots or anything that might make them unhappy when they look back.

I share what I think looks sweet. Apart from product shots, nothing is staged. It’s taken me five years to learn how to capture the personalities of little ones and snap them candidly, the way I’d like. Instagram is the easiest social media platform and I generally run on a day’s delay: I’ll post tomorrow what happened today, if I like it. If I don’t, that’s okay, I’ll post the day after.

I’m very conservative when it comes to sharing – it’s our family blog, but that doesn’t mean I have to overshare and cause my boys to worry because I needed a few likes. Nothing inappropriate is posted by me, that’s not how I want people to see us. I’m more than happy sharing our everyday and our celebrations, but much like when I was younger at nightclubs, I’ll be the one in the 1950s dress and petticoat, protecting my modesty. Everyone else can dance in a bikini if they want to. I’ll be happy that they’re enjoying themselves, but that’s not me. Instagram is my happy place, I never want to be there feeling hungover and embarrassed.”

Emma Naidoo – @theglammummy – has two daughters: Bug, four, and Bee, nearly two

Kids and Instagram: The Glam Mummy

“I took to Instagram straight away as it allowed me to snap quick pics and share them with my followers. I like to think of myself as sitting somewhere between a lifestyle-grammer and parent-grammer. I like clean, simple pictures that incorporate parenting moments, but I’ll take 1000 photos to get one that’s okay. Kids move around a lot and my camera roll is full of ‘duds’.

In the beginning I decided to keep myself and my girls anonymous which meant I didn’t show our faces in any of the pics. But I found that people wanted to know us a bit better and not just see pictures of shoes and hands and backs of heads. So now I happily show the faces of my children on social media. If they didn’t want to have photos taken of them then I would stop straight away, and I won’t show my kids without clothes on, not even in their nappy or underwear. My friends share cute, innocent pics of their kids in the bath or garden partially clothed – who doesn’t love a chubby fat roll? But I have an open (non-private) Instagram account and so I won’t share those pics myself.

Family comes first and so if I need to fall behind with my work for a bit to look after my family or myself then so be it. It’s a constant struggle and balancing act. I used to be really reserved when it came to sharing bits of my life because I felt so exposed. I’m getting better at it now but I still like to keep some moments just for me.”

Adele Jarrett-Kerr – @beautiful.tribe – has three daughters: Tabitha, five, Ophelia, two, and Delilah, two-weeks-old 

Kids and Instagram: Beautiful Tribe

“For me, Instagram is a place to celebrate my family’s days and to find like-minded people. It offers a longer conversation than Twitter but is often a happier, simpler place than Facebook.

As a blogger, work and home life are heavily intertwined because I blog about family life and am a stay-at-home parent. Since I home educate and have been pregnant for the last nine months, I’ve been limited in what work I could take on outside of blogging. My children go to a childminder for a few hours a week to give me a chance to get things done in daylight hours but anything outside of that happens in the evenings.

I feel in many ways that my photographs have accidentally got better over time but I know that what’s actually happened is that I’ve become better practised and trained my eye.

When thinking about what to share, I ask myself first whether it’s respectful. Would I appreciate my children detailing my tantrums? Probably not, so I don’t detail theirs. Is what I’m writing really mine to share or would reading it betray the person I’m writing about, be it my children, my husband or other people in our lives? I also ask whether what I’m sharing is something I’m willing to defend if I have to. If I’m not sure, then that’s a pretty good indicator that it would be better left offline.

I was years into blogging about my family before I considered that sharing pictures of my children could be an ethical dilemma. I don’t know whether that reflects my eldest child’s age or my own. I was 25 when she was born five years ago, but it seemed totally normal to share online as a social media native. Having given it a lot more thought since, I understand both sides of the argument. I’ve chosen to be careful about what kinds of photos I share and I’m equally careful about what I write about my children. As they get older, they’ll no doubt have more and more say in what I offer of their lives online. They’re people. Even now I don’t try to coerce them to have their photographs taken when they’re not in the mood.

I really can’t stomach looking at sloppy food posts and I’m also not keen on seeing pictures of injuries, rashes or little ones using the potty but I recognise that others have different aims in using Instagram and I can easily scroll past if I want to.”

Tips:

  • Have no visual debris. Make sure there isn’t anything in the shot spoiling it or causing a distraction. Look at your background and be very aware of what is happening – is a person about to walk through the shot? Is there litter on the floor, or a part of a swing frame?
  • Take authentic pictures of your children just carrying on about their daily routine. You’ll miss shots – the moment can be so fleeting you miss it – but it will happen again so be ready.
  • Get down to their level. I’m always down on the floor when taking pictures of my boys as this makes a much better picture than standing looking down on them.
  • Look where the light is falling, and check your focus is sharp where you’d like it. Where is the light coming from? Is it too sunny? The rest is just editing to create your vision.
  • Think about the story the picture is going to tell and cut out anything that distracts from that.
  • Use a DSLR. You can capture more light with a good camera, and then transfer the images to your phone to upload.

Kids and Instagram: what are your thoughts? Harmless fun, or an issue that needs addressing? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below…

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