Back when I first started writing about kids and social media, there were two primary players. Facebook and Twitter. But guess what parents? Times have changed. Enter the latest and greatest social media phenomenon. Instagram. If you’re one of the many parents who have been bamboozled by your kid into thinking that Instagram was only a photo editing app, then I’ve got news for you. It’s just as much of a social media site as Facebook and Twitter. So if your tweens and teens are using it, then you need to know what it’s all about. Pronto.
First things first. What is Instagram? It’s a free application that allows users take pictures and share them with other Instagram users. Fun effects can be applied to the pictures that you share and users are encouraged to interact with other users by “liking” and commenting on photos. The Instagram app is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as Android camera phones. Currently Instagram boasts over 100 million users, including a whole lot of kids. That’s where you come in Mom and Dad.
Here are 3 things you need to know if your child is an Instagram user:
Age Requirements. I have heard some parents say “My child isn’t old enough for Facebook, so they are on Instagram instead.” Well, guess what? You have to be 13 years old for both Facebook and Instagram. Why? Because just like Facebook, Instagram is a social media application designed for adults. It is not policed or monitored, other than prohibiting the posting of nude, partially nude, or sexually suggestive photographs.
Privacy Settings. If you’re an Instagram user, particularly if you’re a kid, there’s one feature that you need to activate. The privacy setting. The default is set to public sharing, which means that your pictures are public to all Instagram users. To change the default to private, go to the “Options” menu and click “ON” for “Photos Are Private.” This means that only your followers can see your pictures. They are private to anyone else. If there’s one thing you take from this post, I hope it’s to know how to keep your photos (and those of your children) private!
Followers. My kids know that if they are on a social media site then I’m going to be there with them. I’ll be their “friend” on Facebook and “follow” them on Instagram. It’s amazing the stuff you learn about your kids through their social media presence. You’ll have to make your own account, but I promise it’s painless and will be worth it in the long run. Another social media rule I recommend is that you only allow people to follow you that you actually know. Strangers shouldn’t be following you or your children around town, so they certainly shouldn’t be following you online either!
Do you have any advice to offer on keeping your child safe on Instagram or social media in general? Let us hear from you! For more tips, check out my Top Ten Ways To Keep Your Kids Safe Online.