Facebook is going the way of MySpace, at least with the teen and tween crowd. While only 45% of teens use Facebook now, 76% are on Instagram!
For those of you who feel a little out of the loop, Instagram is a social media website and app used for sharing pictures and short videos (3-15 seconds). Most people use download the app onto a smart phone, but you can use the website on a laptop computer. It’s a quick, easy, and fun way to record what you are doing and share it with the world.
So, as a parent, what should you know about Instagram?
It’s free and easy… and anonymous
To set up an Instagram, all you need is an email account. The lack of expense is nice, but the ease of access provides the opportunity for anonymous posting. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, and it is important to teach kids to maintain some online privacy, but complete anonymity seems to tempt adults and teens alike to say and do nasty things, like….
Did you know that there are beauty pageants on Instagram?
Here’s how they work.
Someone posts a group picture with the caption, “Comment to vote someone out.”
Then one face in the picture (the person with the most comments) gets an X.
Then another one.
Then another one.
Until the “most beautiful” person in the picture is the only one without an X.
It is not difficult to imagine how it would feel to see the comments… and then the X.
Unfortunately, this is just one example of cyberbullying on Instagram. If your children are on Instagram, teach them to think before they post. If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, encourage them to unfollow, block, whatever it takes.
One way to protect your child from some cyberbullying on Instagram is to require that she approves a tagged picture before it is added to her account. This can prevent unwanted pictures of her from showing up on her Instagram page.
The default setting for an Instagram account is open– anyone can follow your posts.
To make your account private, go to your profile (the little person in the bottom right hand corner) and click on the line of three squares next to your user name. Under “Account,” you’ll see a little circle that you can move. If the area around the circle is grey, your account is public. To make your account private, move the circle. When the area around the circle is blue, your account is private.
Your existing followers will not be affected, so if a few unwanted followers slipped through the cracks before you changed your privacy settings, you will need to block them. Just go to their Instagram profile, click on the line of three squares again, and select “Block User.”
(Note: These instructions are for the Instagram application on an Android smart phone. The process might be slightly different on a different brand of smart phone, a tablet, or a laptop/desktop computer.)
Family-Friendly Newsfeed? No Guarantee
When you follow someone on Instagram, every post shows up on your home page, just like Facebook. Unlike Facebook, it is very common on Instagram to follow celebrities and public figures. If a celebrity (say Kim Kardashian) posts a revealing selfie, and your teen follows Kim Kardashian on Instagram, your teen will see suggestive media when he or she opens Instagram next.
Be aware of who your teen follows and what they post. Adults on social media may post adult content that does not adhere to your family’s guidelines for appropriate media.
Instagram is a user-friendly way to share the highlights of your day. Just be aware, be wise, and teach your kids to do the same!