A New Instagram Record - Should We Be Glad or Sad?

Kara Powell | Nov 28, 2012

Until last week, the record for most Instagram-related photos was for Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy as 800,000 pictures were shared.

Multiple that by about 12 and you get the number of Thanksgiving and/or turkey related pictures that were shared on Thanksgiving Day. 10 million photos that peaked at 12:40 pm PT with 226 pictures/second.

That makes me sad.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a tech fuddy duddy. I'm decently active on twitter and Facebook. I will tweet this blog post in fact. I post pictures regularly. But I'm very aware that often as I'm enjoying a moment with our FYI team or my family, I get so focused on clicking and posting that I disengage from what's happening.

I don't want my kids' primary image of me to be with my head down on the laptop or the cellphone.

I realize that many (maybe even most) of the pictures posted on Thanksgiving were by young people who are staying connected with each other, and that's an important and potentially valuable social relationship. We've posted other blogs about adolescent use of technology and some of its assets and liabilities.

But that's not what makes me sad. It's the thought of adults, sitting at the Thanksgiving table, taking a picture of the meal before them and then turning aside to their phone (and away from their gathered friends and family) to post it.

If you're an adult who is active on social media, I hope you consider the following:

  1. Ask the people you care about most how they feel about the amount of time you spend using social media and/or technology in general. Do they think you do it too much, too little, or the right amount?
  2. Discuss with those closest to you how social media can actually be a plus. If your kids are in elementary school, they might enjoy the idea that you're Facebooking about them (mine normally do; in fact, I usually ask their permission before I tweet or Facebook something related to them). If the young people closest to you are teenagers or emerging adults, they're likely to be more ambivalent or even anxious about how you might embarrass them. Find out what they are OK with and honor that.
  3. Think ahead of time about if you want to block off some days/times as "social media free". I actually did that for the majority of Thanksgiving because that's what felt right given my family time. Are there other days/meals/times/kids' basketball games you should view as "social media free" for the benefit of your family?
If you Instagrammed, Linked In, Facebooked, or Tweeted on Thanksgiving, odds are good it didn't affect your family all that negatively. It's just one day; one tweet. I guess I'm wondering about the message a string of days like that might communicate.
Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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