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Insta-SnapChat: What Parents Need to Know About Instagram’s New Features

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These days, Instagram and SnapChat are the two big fish in the social media pond. Now, with Instagram’s new feature, Instagram Direct, the two are more similar than ever. Instagram Direct is a private messaging feature that allows the followers of any profile to send text, photo, or video messages. Users can choose whether to send permanent or disappearing messages– just like SnapChat.

 

There are two options to make messages disappear within Instagram Direct. The first is a “true” disappearing message– a picture or video is taken within the Instagram app and will automatically delete after viewing. The second is an unsend option. Users can click on a picture, text, or video message after the fact and delete it permanently.

 

After a “disappearing” message has expired, there’s a small grey icon and a line of text indicating a message was there.

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However, if a permanent message was unsent, there’s no sign of a message at all. For parents of Instagram users, this is important to keep in mind. While the idea of teens sending ephemeral messages may make parents (understandably) squeamish, the unsend feature is even more problematic because it prevents parents from keeping tabs on their kids.

 

A couple other facts worth noting about Instagram Direct:

*Only the sender can unsend a message or arrange for a message to disappear automatically.

*Recipients can take a screenshot of a disappearing message through the mobile device’s screenshot function. Instagram will notify the sender immediately if the recipient took a screenshot of the message.

*The sender of a message must be a follower of the recipient, but the recipient does not need to be a follower of the sender to receive the message. So, if my account is not private, and stranger Average Joe has followed me, he can send me private photo, video, or text messages even if I don’t follow Average Joe. Parents, if Instagram is an approved social media platform in your home, require your kids’s accounts to be private! Private accounts can screen followers. Public accounts are accessible to anyone.

*As of right now, there is no way to disable Instagram Direct. Note that Instagram and Instagram Direct are now a package deal.

 

While it is important to stay informed about new social media platforms, parents shouldn’t assume that “old” apps stay the same. As new apps become popular, like SnapChat, older apps like Instagram will add popular features to attract new users and retain current users. Changes to popular social media apps often make the news, so keep an eye out for headlines about your kids’ favorite apps. Log in periodically and see if anything has changed. Don’t be afraid to give or rescind your approval if an app makes changes. As the social media scene grows, it has never been more important to stay in the loop!

 

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13 Jul, 17

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