Although Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old, the 11-year-old twins of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat both have their own accounts.
And this breach of social media age restrictions was flagged by Kristina Chetcuti, Occupy Justice activist and partner of ex Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, in a Times of Malta article criticising Michelle Muscat’s attitude towards her children getting bullied.
“You avoid social media bullying by actually following the rules: children under 13 should NOT have Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat accounts,” Chetcuti wrote. “If children have an account with false declarations of their birth year or an account is registered on their behalf, then it’s a violation of the terms of the social media companies. And this applies to everyone including children of presidents, minsters or prime ministers.”
Michelle Muscat last week accused San Anton School of discriminatorily closing a blind eye to the bullying her children passed through as a result of the Egrant saga and the Panama Papers.
“They were taunted about Panama, they weren’t invited to parties along with the rest of their classmates, and other children used to post stuff about their father in the school’s social chat-group,” Muscat said.
However, Chetcuti argued that bullying is part of growing up and that the Muscats should be raising their children to form a thick skin.
“If your kids have not been invited to a party with the rest of the class, do not wail “Mhux fer”,” she wrote. “It happens to all children whether their parents are doctors, bankers, plumbers or politicians. It is called part of growing up: the first disappointments. It serves children well later, because life is not perfect and there will always be people who won’t like you.”
Instagram’s account restrictions
“School ground bullying is bound to happen. It can be because your children’s classmates think that your politician husband is absolute rubbish, but it could also be because your child wears specs or gets better grades or has a funny accent. You need to arm your children with witty replies and punches, and not making them feel they are little princes or princesses who deserve special treatment.”
“If you feel that the world owes you a living because you are a politician, that attitude will rub off your children and their behaviour with their friends will be insufferable. Remember you made your own choice, the public did not push you into it. So please get a grip.”