One of my favourite past times is perusing my thirteen year old daughters pin boards on Pinterest. It’s a place where her extremely colourful and creative personality shines!
Pinterest is a wonderful thing. If used with moderation and with boundaries. Having a centralised, web-based location for a mood board is a brilliant idea, but as with all public sites, there needs to be some boundaries and you need to be aware of how pinterest works before you allow your teenagers to participate. As a parent, the first thing to do would be to set up your own account. Use it for a few weeks and get to know the ins and outs before you allow your teens into the big Pinterest world.
Here are a few things to discuss and do with your teen:
1. Pinterest is not private. Anyone who knows your username can look at your board. Any image you pin will go onto the mega Pinterest Pinboard. Using your full name is just not safe, unless you are prepared to have your name out there, linked to all the things you love. (If you have a pinterest account, google your name.. does it come up with a link to your boards? case closed) Do not allow your teen to upload a photo of themselves, for the same reason as why you wouldn’t let them use their full name.
2. Why Pinterest? Have a chat with your teen about why they would like to have a Pinterest account. For our teen, it’s all about colour, fashion, art and literature. Have a purpose.
3. Set up the account together. Know your teen’s password. Let them know that the only reason you want to know it is for their interweb safety.
4. Discuss moderation. If you have used Pinterest, you will know how addictive it can be. So much out there, so many lovely images to pin. Discuss a daily usage time limit. And enforce it. (This of course can only be done if you know what your teen is doing on the computer, laptop or smart phone) Discuss what boards and pins are age appropriate. No, it is not ok for a thirteen year old to have a board solely dedicated to “romantic photos I want taken with my boyfriend”. Set a limit on boards.
5. Moderate. Every now and then, ask your teen to sit with you as you look over their boards and pins. Discuss what to keep and what to turf. If you have ground rules for pins and boards you deem inappropriate, and your teen has overstepped the boundaries, you have the power to delete them. As others see your child pin questionable material on Pinterest, think for a moment – what are they thinking about my parenting? And, yes, it does matter. People judge and people presume a lot about someone’s character by what they see. Human nature unfortunately.
6. Who is your child following? There is no way to moderate who follows your boards. It’s open slather. But you can moderate who you and your teen follow. Ground rules around here are 1. If you know the person in person, go ahead, it’s ok to follow. 2. If it’s a company (ie. Kikki K) Mum needs to ok it. 3. If it’s a blogger (ie Pip from Meet me at Mikes) or designer (ie Beci Orpin or The Design Files) Mum needs to ok it. Every so often, go through your teens ‘follow’ list. Cull together. Discuss why.
7. GIve some artistic freedom and trust the pinner. With all the ground rules in place and being used, let your teen have some fun. Pinterest is a great way for teens to express themselves and explore the big, wide world that is the interweb (yes, used that word again. a friend introduced me to it. your kids will grimace when you say it. try it. priceless parenting entertainment) You can discover a lot about your child through what they pin and who they choose to follow.
Let the children pin.