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In the first and second parts of my series of What Parents Should Know about popular social media platforms, I touched on Facebook and Twitter. Today, I’m taking a look at Instagram. For the uninitiated, Instagram is a picture and video sharing app that has 150 million monthly users and so the more educated you can be on it, the more of an equal conversation that you can have with your child (and the more likely they are to be receptive to what you have to say.)
Here are my Top 9 Things that parents should know about Instagram
- As with most social networking sites, Instagram recommends that users be at least 13 to utilize their service. This has nothing to do with protecting your child and everything to do with utilizing posts and pictures for marketing purposes.
- Instagram has two options for accounts: private or public. That’s it. If your account is private, anyone that wishes to follow your account must be approved. If your account is Public, any photograph or video that you upload is available for all 150 million daily users. Yikes…
- Instagram relies on interacting with strangers. Some of the people that will want to “Follow” your child WILL be strangers. Don’t allow this. Anyone that your child is Following on Instagram, or wants to Follow them, should be someone that they personally know.
- Unlike Twitter, there are no “verified” celebrity accounts. It can be difficult to navigate the genuine celebrity Instagram account from the fake one. When in doubt, tell your kids to move on.
- Users do not need a “real” first and last name to create a username/profile on Instagram. Without this information, it will be virtually impossible for you to find your child’s account. Make your kids provide you with their username AND password. Understand that they can make up a fake account. Or 12. So can anyone else.
- If at all possible, set up the account with them and talk about profile safety, sharing personal information, omitting phone numbers, disabling location services, and the personal and legal ramifications of inappropriate pictures and videos.
- Disable location services, and disconnect third party accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr that can automatically share your Instagram content.
- There are NO parental controls or standards on searchable hashtags used throughout Instagram. This to me is THE single biggest issue with Instagram and children. If your 8 year old wants to search for #horses, and someone has used that hashtag on an inappropriate picture, your child is going to see it. Regardless of whether their profile is private or not.
- Remember that Wi-Fi is free almost everywhere. They’ll use their friends phones, tablets, music players, video games, school computers, or whatever they can get their hands on with internet access to visit Insta and see what’s going on. Grounding them from social media is ineffective.
What are your thoughts? Are you currently doing any of the above steps?