My Life in an Instagram

Life in pictures. It is a neat concept and one that I have only recently been observing as I have started to use Instagram more. Do you use Instagram? I wonder what advantages you find posting pics rather than words or status updates? Have conversations via hashtags?

I love this snapshot of part of my life last month. All @7mouths2feed.

Spring into Adventure

Image from Oh, Joy

My life is very ordinary. Really. We are a busy family, juggling school runs, sport and music activities, work and study. I am sure you know what I mean. Making dinner in between taxi runs, making sure everyone is organised and prepared. This week has been a mammoth effort in preparation. My man and I are about to travel overseas to somewhere warmer. This autumn girl will farewell leaves and cool winds and welcome springtime in Northern America.

So while a big part of me is excited. I am also a little overwhelmed. Both sets of grandparents are working as CEOs of our family home. I have prepared a manifesto of our life and you know what – on paper it looks busy, really busy. I realise that all of these little notes and forms and to do lists I keep in my head, day to day. No wonder sometimes I feel foggy and a little s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d!

I am really hoping to be inspired while travelling with my man. I will miss all five of my children so much, but I know we need to do this trip. To be inspired, excited, taken outside of our comfort zone and experience new things together. All of our family in fact. So if you pray – ask God for protection on us all, a real blessing for the grandparents and kids as they do life together. And new joy for a new season. Why not travel with me? Read the blog or follow me on Instagram: 7mouths2feed

Bon Voyage!

Kik the habit

In recent weeks we have seen a phenomenon in the schoolyard. An increased use of a free social messaging app for smartphones called Kik. It has become the number one free social app in the USA and one that users are taking on with enthusiasm. Sadly there are many younger uses taking advantage of the free app as well. Parents may think nothing of it. An app that is free and allows their children to communicate with no expense. But there are always two sides to the story.

Kik is free. But it is also private and uncontrolled. So a whole range of ‘conversations’ can be had alongside the normal schoolyard ones. The danger of using Kik comes when combine Kik while using other social media like Instagram. Michael Sheehan, technologist, blogger and passionate parent has some very important things to say in his blog post on High Tech Dad: Parents Beware: Instagram & Kik Messenger Are A Dangerous Combination & What Social Dangers to Check For. Even Instagram seems to take a semi “official” line and advocates instagrammers using Kik as well – because it is ‘private’ but you don’t have to reveal any of your personal information.

Technology and how our kids use it is a parenting issue. It is here to stay. We need to be active users of technology alongside our children to ensure that privacy is being maintained. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram or the like we need to be having continuous conversations about the ever changing terrain of social media. Have you had any encounters with Kik and your kids?

Here are some online safety tips that Sheehan believes parents should think about:
  1. Privacy on Instagram – while Instagram has some privacy settings, there aren’t that many. You can block users and you can make your pictures/account private. They don’t seem to enforce a 13 and over age group when signing up. So, be sure that you set your child’s profile to “private” meaning that only people who are allowed can see photos that are posted.
  2. Only allow followers that you know – this is true with any social media service. I have made a rule with my kids that they can only allow people that they know to follow them on Instagram. It’s a bit more difficult if the profile is public.
  3. Do NOT allow Kik – It is private, it is un-regulated, it does not have privacy controls or parental controls. From what I can tell on it, having played with it on my kid’s iPhone (prior to me deleting it), is that it merely accesses your contacts and allows you to know who of your contacts are using it as well. You can block users but there is no auditing of accounts nor linking to other social network profiles (which might actually be a better way to ensure the authenticity of a user).
  4. Censor the photos – I recommend not letting your child post pictures of themselves. Try to restricts posts to pets or objects or non-identifiable items. When photos of kids are posted, you are potentially exposing kids to strangers peeping into their lives.
  5. Turn off Location/Geo-tagging of photos – it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most smartphones now tag each photo with geo-location data. While cool to see where photos are taken, many times the uploaded photos still contain that geo-specific information. Turn that feature off!

Apps on your iPad/iphone

This is somewhat overwhelming no? The App store is an endless source of possibilities. Only today over lunch with a few girlfriends I heard of apps that calculate your calorie intake and plan your route for your next run. Do you have many apps that are really useful on your devices?

I enjoy Instagram ( cute instant photo app), Redstamp ( easy to use invite/letter maker), HomeBudget ( home finance records), Pulse (organisational tool for all of my blogs and news reading) and of course the Facebook/ebay mobile apps. Of course there are many that are designed to entertain the kids. What do you use?

Do you have a must have app that you would like to share?