6 Yr Old Sky. One To Watch

Monday, October 20, 2014

This video of  little 6 year old Sky is SO inspiring.  Can't wait to see more! Watch all the way through, her tricks just get better and better.    #OneToWatch

Instagram - Is It Really a Case about Being Under 13? Proof That It's NOT.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

 Bella, Zoe, Sabre, Sierra, Quincy and Minna doing what they love

Instagram - The topic of the deleted young surfers & skaters won't stop, and we have been getting calls, texts, emails, and post after post, in support of these young athletes with huge followings who have had their instagram accounts deleted, shut down or hacked - whichever word you'd like to insert here is fine, because until Instagram issues a statement, who really knows which it is?

The point I have made before is if a parent runs the instagram and it says so on the bio, is that really a violation of the rules that state you have to be over 13 to have an account? If it is, why are many very popular kids instagrams (some with over 342,000 followers) still up and running?

We can't say instagram isn't aware of them because the kids I have looked into that are still there have been written up on websites like Business Daily which nicely provided a list awhile back of some of the most popular instagram kids and click through links to their sites.

We also can't say that if you have the tag line "run by management or mom" in bio you are safe - not all profiles that were deleted, or those still up, fit this scenario. Nor can we say it's because you listed your child's age in the bio and publicly admitted they were under the 13 yr old age requirement. Because once agai,n I have seen and heard both scenarios that equaled deletion.

That leads me to this interesting bit of information that a concerned party was nice enough to share with me....

This info is part of an article in the Daily Mail out of the UK about Pixie and her mom Roxy

"Instagram has reversed the decision to close an account run by Sydney PR star Roxy Jacenko on behalf of her daughter Pixie".

"The mother-of-two was outraged - and her daughter sorely disappointed - last week when Instagram disabled the popular @pixiecurtis account, claiming it violated the photo-sharing app's age restrictions".

"But after writing to Instagram headquarters explaining the account is not run by a two-year-old but in fact her social media savvy mother, the account - which has more than 18,000 followers - was re-activated".

"Roxy described the move as 'ludicrous' given it is she - a 33-year-old mother - running the account, not a toddler".  'It's all a bit silly really, a harmless account run by a 33-year-old mother to share funny content – it's hardly breaking any laws,' she said.

"The business woman wrote to Instagram demanding they reactivate the account, and told MailOnline she didn't understand why she'd been targeted when there are countless Instagram profiles that purport to authored by a child - but obviously are not"

Let's read that again. Two? Pixie is two? Well yes, it stands to reason to any sane person, that a two year old could not possibly run their own instagram, of this I am quite certain. But at what age are we saying that it could "possibly" be the child running it, which would make it a violation of the FCC regulations?  Five? Seven? Nine? Twelve?

If the parent agrees, as Pixie's mom did, to take full control of the account and signs off on that legally, why can't the account then be left alone or reinstated? We have all heard about companies computer servers holding on to all your information forever (remember the Snap Chat debacle?) so we know the info on these deleted accounts is stored somewhere.  Seems like in Pixie's case it was "recovered" so there is a glimmer of hope here for the athletes accounts that were deleted.

What about parents, teams & groups who continually post pictures of their kids under the age of thirteen that are still on instagram? How is that different, if in fact, the issue is the FCC being worried about child predators?  I have a few references of instagram accounts to back this up but I'm not going to out them, as I'm stoked they are still able to share these athletic kids photos to inspire others.

NEW INFO as of 10/20:  Here is a great article that was posted on Saturday "40 percent of moms aged 18 to 34 created social media accounts for their baby before the child’s first birthday — and another 7 percent made one before their kid’s second birthday" Yes, dedicated accounts FOR the child.  Right or wrong it bolsters the claim that children's accounts are on instagram and there is public knowledge of this phenomenon. You can read the well written article by Allesandra Dubin  HERE

What about the kids I know who are thirteen to seventeen and allowed full reign on social media? I worry more about people luring them into conversations online and bad situations, than I do with these six to ten year old athletes whose parents fully manage their accounts.  

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to all this  and I think that is what most people that have been affected by this find  maddening. That and the lack of communication and answers from instagram itself.

But the good part is that by evidenced by the info above on two year old Pixie, if you lobby, state your case, and ban together,  you may be able to have the instagram account reactivated. It obviously is not irreversible nor do you have to be 13 or over.  Remember that Pixie is two.

P.S. At the time of this post two year old @pixiecurtis has over 89,251 followers and counting - although I highly doubt that she even knows or cares...

Beverly Flood - The World's Going To Know Your Name.

Woke up this morning to THIS. Beverly Flood's new video. We have been eagerly waiting to see this video since we saw the teaser on instagram a few weeks ago.

Absolutely stunning. Beautifully shot in black and white, edited to awesome music, and Beverly showing style and grace as she throws down trick after trick.  GREAT video!

This skater girl is making a name for herself, having moved from the amateur ranks to the pro's just a few short months ago. You can see more of Beverly in person when she competes at Exposure Skate Contest on November 8.

Beverly's sponsors are: Flood Kontrol, XS Helmets, Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word, Theeve Trucks, 187 Pads, LipZipz Lipbalm, Immortal Laces, Mission Belt Co, & Goodtimes Board Store.

Filmed by: Beverly's mom, Spencer Hanscom & Dakota Olave

Why Do Kids Need Instagram?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Minna, Bella, Zoe, Quincy, Sierra & Sabre - all their profiles have been removed from instagram

I've been asked this question quite a bit in the last 24 hours. And while I can't speak for all kids, I can speak for kids who are athletes & who are at the top of their game.

First a little info on why I am speaking out about all of this & my background. Besides running this GN4LW site for girls in action sports,  I have also been a wardrobe/fashion stylist for over 20 years, which means I work on advertising shoots & commercials for companies like Gatorade, Nike, Adidas, Cocoa Cola, Sports Illustrated, ESPN,  etc. So I get to work with exceptional  adults, teens, tweens, and kids, who are simply the best athletes in the world. (Reference - http://www.cindywhitehead.com) As most of you know,  I was also a pro skateboarder in my teenage years, so I have been on both sides of what I am going to talk about.

Perhaps the average kid really doesn't need to have instagram account,  but the kids I have posted about (Zoe, Minna, Bella, Sierra, Sabre & Quincy) are all kids who have accomplished major milestones in the action sports community, and are visible, high profile, athletes.

Second, all the kids I have mentioned in the previous post do NOT run their own instagram - their parents manage it, post for them and monitor all comments.  Much like a underage actor or actress would have his or her management team do on instagram. Therefore, it's really more akin to an "Athletes Page" on Facebook.

Zoe showing her sponsor GoPro how that waterproof camera is working for her

All these girls have sponsors for their given sport. In this day in age when you have a sponsor, you are expected to post pictures of you excelling at your sport while using the sponsors product and in turn, the sponsor is supposed to promote you on their brand page. You also typically place your sponsors stickers on your boards, helmet, etc where they are viable in photos. Sponsors in turn help parents off set costs at the amateur level by providing product - that can mean expensive surfboards, skateboards, shoes, wheels, contest entry fees, and apparel - and these kids can go through a lot when training and competing.

Some of you will ask, "why bother, what's the point"?

Let's look at an athlete like top ranked 13 year old pro snowboarder Chloe Kim, who qualified for the Olympics last year but wasn't allowed to go, because she was slightly under the age requirement. She has a full roster of top sponsors like Burton Snowboards and Monster energy drink, and heading into the 2014/2015 winter season she has 7,000+ followers on instagram, 1,750 on Facebook and is featured on various websites. That means her popularity in general will most likely continue to grow moving forward, and with contests results combined with her social media reach, it all makes  her a very attractive package to future endorsement deals and sponsorships at a much higher level. This in turn enables her to make a living from doing what she loves. How great is that?

Chloe Kim at the X-Games

Top ranked amateur skateboarder, Poppy Starr Olsen age 14, is another great example. Instagram has enabled her to show off her amazing art work & jewelry that she creates, which she sells to fund her travel from her home in Australia to the USA for comps, as well as being  a place to showcase her skating skills. She has spoken at Google Headquarters about being a top young athlete and entrepreneur, and she is giving her first TEDx talk this month! Yes, she is a very exceptional kid, and social media has helped her grow and showcase her talents to become an even bigger source of inspiration to others.

Poppy skating here in the USA at the Vans US Open and some of her her beautiful  jewelry line

In my day, we had magazines that we were profiled in. I was expected to shoot with photographers, do my best in contests, and project a good image publicly for my sponsors. Social media has replaced a lot of that and there is really no turning back.  So now the expectations are a bit different for teh athletes. We like to know minutes after a contest "who won"? We know when someone has left their sponsor and moved onto to another. We also know quickly, when milestones have been reached, like Sabre Norris landing a 540 on a vert ramp. How inspiring is that? Especially when you see Sabre's face light up with excitement when she lands it - all via her instagram page.

Good or bad, it is the world we now live in.

I know for a fact that these young girls I have mentioned are role models and inspirations to many other young girls out there, and to adults like myself. The whole idea of "if she can do, I can do it" comes into play when you see 7 year old Bella & Sierra launch huge airs at the Vans US Open (which was not on a live feed - so yeah for instagram!) or Zoe Benedetto throwing both fins out of a wave with a big old "off the lip" while smiling and having the time of her life.  And who can forget Minna Stess dropping in from the top of the 28 ft tall mega ramp at Woodward?  I saw all these awesome milestones by these young girls on instagram - before they were picked up and posted elsewhere.

Quincy Symonds,  also known as "The Flying Squirrel" has gotten huge support from all over the world via instagram both for her rad surfing ability at age 6 and that a TV show that did a feature on her. We all learned that in addition to being an exceptional surfer, she has also been fighting medical issues her entire young life,  but is still out there smiling & ripping daily. To be honest, this is where I catch up with the parents and kids, and know daily who has broken a bone (bummer!), who won a contest, or who is just having fun shredding. 

Girls need role models and to be able to see other girls their own age doing exceptional things like this.  Yes, the GN4LW site also profiles these girls as often as we can, but their instagram accounts provide that source of inspiration daily. They are also all friends via social media, even though a couple live across the world - its like having a pen pal back in my day.  Numerous times I have viewed their comments on each others pages cheering one another on - which I think is awesome - instead of being jealous or thinking that other girls are the enemy.

The Pink Helmet Posse - inspiring other girls daily. Sierra & Bella's instagram's are now missing

These girls are not showing off their bodies in risque clothing, they are not glorifying drugs or drinking, they are becoming champions at their sport and need to be celebrated not hidden away,  especially when all their parents are controlling their accounts, so they are safe from harm.

I'm hoping instagram will get to the bottom of why these girls were deleted and perhaps implement a policy that says, "if you chose to be on instagram and are 13 or under, your parents must sign a waiver, be responsible for posting and monitoring comments, and you must be projecting a positive image for others".

How about that for a solution?

The Girls Of Instagram - What Happened?

Friday, October 17, 2014

So I woke up this morning to a text message. Popular nine year old, Florida surfer/skater, Zoe Benedetto's instagram was GONE it said. Gone, as in deleted as if it never existed. No warning, no notification, no "nothing" according to her mom. Just a "user not found" on the screen where post after post of her surfing & skating photos & videos once were.  Zoe competes up and down the Florida coast and is a top ranked amateur surfer.  Now Zoe was gone, and so were her photos, videos and 4,000+ followers. All of her friends and her major sponsors, like Billabong and Go Pro (and us here at GN4LW!) were left in the dark wondering "what just happened?"

Then we received a text from Jason who runs The Pink Helmet Posse in California - well known eight year old skaters Bella Kenworthy with 2,000+ follwers & Sierra Kerr at 10,000+ followers, also gone from instagram. The Pink Helmet Posse had recently been featured in Sports Illustrated Kids Magazine, had their documentary movie premier at the New York Film Festival to rave reviews, and now 2 out of 3 of the core team were deleted from instagram .  Why??

Then the calls & texts came fast and furious. It wasn't just these 3 exceptional pint sized female athletes that were deleted. Nope, there were more.

Sabre Norris, age nine who was featured in the new Kid Mac video, and was the first Australian girl to do a 540 on a vert ramp, was missing from instagram. Like the other girls, Sabre had 12,000+ followers. She also has over 1,230,000+ hits on her Youtube video of her 540 posted by The Berrics.

Minna Stess age eight from Northern California, also had her account deleted today. Minna had 4,010 followers as of last night before she went to bed. You might remember Minna from the video of her dropping in on the 28 foot high mega ramp at Woodward this past summer. The girl is incredible! She has been busy at the skate park practicing hard & preparing her "A" game to compete in Exposure Skate - an all girl skate contest being held in San Diego in November. This unwanted distraction was not something she or her parents needed.

Last but not least at the time of this posting, was little Quincy Symonds age six, also known in surf and skate circles across the world as The Flying Squirrel. Quincy had just been featured on a TV show about how she has overcome tough medical odds to become an amazing surfer and skater. Her followers also numbered in the thousands.

You may be thinking, "it's only social media, who really cares"?? Well, a lot of people do apparently. It is the talk of the action sports community, and it should be. These young athletes work hard to be the top tier in their respective sports. They are also all under the age of 10 and have multiple sponsors that they post for and those same sponsors share their posts. But more importantly they are all positive role models for girls of all ages. These girls are not showing skin or talking about boys and posting risque photos - they are surfing and skateboarding and making strides in the action sports community like no other generation has done previously.

If Instagram took their profiles down with out notifying them or their parents (all the accounts above are run/monitored by the parents) it was a major disservice to all young girls out there. It also left a lot of people in the dark as to what instagram's policy's really are.

New updated  info as of 10/19 - Some parents saw the account was deleted - then tried to "sign" in - when they did they received a screen that came up saying you must verify your age to be over 13 - since the parents ran these accounts (and said so in bio) they sent in their info. No word yet on action instagram is taking to reinstate accounts or not.

New info as of 10/18 : * Or was it hackers as people have speculated? If so, it would be great for instagram to publicly address the issue.

* Is it because they are under 13? If so, why wasn't a notification sent before deleting double checking their ages? (some did get this , some did not)

* Was it someone who clicked that dreaded "report to instagram" button and employees at Instagram noticed no pattern with the reports and just hit delete?

* Why were these kids singled out and why specifically skaters and surfers?

New info as of 10/18: * We have now heard that there are some boys who were deleted as well, and other athletes whose pages are "locked" pending verification from instagram, but when parents responded with answers, nothing happened to "unlock" the page. 

* And last but not least, why is instagram so hard to get hold of?  Online forms were filled out and Instagram was contacted by all these girls parents -  and has yet to respond.

When you have girls out there like Zoe, Bella, Sierra, Minna, Quincy & Sabre that are such positive role models for other young girls,  this whole thing just doesn't make much sense.

We'd appreciate you all sharing this post, & talking about this topic on social media.  Hopefully by working together, we can get instagram to respond, find out what happened, & get these girls accounts back.