Instagram ruined my kids' Christmas: enough with the boastful posts

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

This Christmas, my children typed out a Christmas list. Despite being past the age of Santa, my youngest still likes to do a list and my eldest does the same, if not for any other reason but to have in writing what they do and don't want for Christmas, as a kind of contract with us, I guess.

Invariably, there will be at least one hugely expensive tech item on there, often the latest iPhone, which they never get, but it doesn't stop them from trying each year.

Come Christmas morning, they are generally excited by what they find under the tree or in their Santa sacks, until a few hours later when these sorts of comments start:

"Mia got an iPhone 11 for Christmas."

"Mason got Air Pods Pro."

"Kayla got an Apple watch."

And suddenly the boardgame they got, or the new phone case, or the T-shirt that they loved an hour ago just doesn't cut it anymore.

OK, I get there are a few things to unpack here.

And one is as old as time. I am certainly not the first parent to issue a pre-Christmas plea to parents not to stuff their kids' Christmas stockings with super expensive gifts, especially if they are from Santa.


This has been an issue ever since I was a kid and parents tried to explain why little Johnnie got the latest Sega game console while Freddie only got a rubber ball.

For decades, parents have implored their peers to gift the really expensive presents from themselves and make the more affordable stuff from Santa.

What to spend on your kids for Christmas is also a hot debate. Just look at any mum-centric community Facebook page in the lead-up to Christmas and you will find plenty of questions along the lines of: "How much should I spend on my kids at Christmas?", followed by a long list of varied replies.

Then there is the question that has plagued parents in recent years. Do you buy your kids that computer they need for starting high school for Christmas or do you wait and give it to them in January?

In the last few years we have bought two high-end laptop computers required for high school and several mobile phones. And despite the fact they received each of those close to Christmas, we resisted the urge to give them as gifts, which probably would have saved us money in the long run.

Of course, people's financial situations are a major influence on what people spend at Christmas, but this isn't always the only factor.

Plenty of parents with money to burn will hold back on their Christmas spending, while those who may not have as much disposable income will go all out on their kids' Christmas gifts.

And while it's not anyone's place to tell someone else what they should or shouldn't spend on their children, the old social norms and etiquette surrounding money seem to have gone out the window as social media usage has risen.

Have a look through your preteen or teenage child's Instagram feed on Christmas Day and you will find countless images of children with their Christmas haul spread out around them, often totalling thousands of dollars.

Kids today not only know what their peers got for Christmas within minutes of the paper being ripped off gifts, but if they didn't already know how much everything cost they can find out with a mouse click or two.

Maybe I should keep my kids off social media on Christmas Day, I hear you say, or I should teach my kids to be thankful for what they receive and not be jealous of others.

Both good arguments.

But maybe those parents who gift their kids a $1200 iPhone 11 or $399 Air Pods Pro or a $700 Apple watch could also teach their children not to be boastful and post pictures of their gifts on social media on Christmas Day.

So, if you won't resist the urge to splurge on the latest iPhone or other expensive gift for your child next Christmas, please at least discourage them from posting pics of them on Instagram.

After all, when I was a kid, people didn't pin a Polaroid snap of their Christmas haul to the front door of their house for all to see.