Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has changed the face of creativity and interaction in the social networking space. Instagram is a social networking app developed for the sharing of videos and photos from any iOS, Android or Windows device. It is an extremely popular app that inspires creativity and encourages social interaction. Its appeal spreads from teens to parents, artists, celebrities, foodies, photographers and businesses alike.
Similar to most social networking platforms, anyone who creates an account on Instagram has a profile and newsfeed that is unique to them. And like all social networking platforms, Instagram should be used appropriately in order to avoid any unwanted contact from strangers. Here are some simple steps to follow to make sure yourself and your kids are using Instagram safely:
1. Comply with the age requirements: We have had a few parents asking us what the appropriate age is for their children to be online, and our answer is simple; comply with the given age restrictions. The minimum age requirement to open an account with Instagram is 13; the reason being that Instagram is not a strictly monitored platform which could lead to children being exposed to inappropriate or harmful content.
2. Control your privacy: There are privacy settings available on Instagram that allow you to determine who can follow you. With the correct privacy setting activated, your account will no longer be public which means anyone who wants to follow you or view your profile has to be approved by you first. Here’s how to make your account private:
• Step 1: Go to your profile page.
• Step 2: Click on the icon on the top right hand corner of the screen.
• Step 3: Toggle the “Private Account” switch under the “Account” tab.
3. Don’t geo-tag: When uploading a photo or video to your Instagram profile you are given the option to add your location to the post by selecting the option shown in the screenshot below. Our advice is to steer clear of the geo-tagging options because of the potential risks it poses for you and your kids. Click here to find out more about the concept of geo-tagging.
4. Report inappropriate users: As mentioned above, Instagram is not a strictly monitored social networking platform and in some cases, it is used as a platform for posting inappropriate content. While Instagram doesn’t monitor every post that is made, they do allow for reporting of users. If you or your child ever come across content that you find inappropriate, the best thing to do is report it. Here’s how:
• Step 1: To report a user: Go to their profile and click on the icon next to their username. Select “Report User”.
• Step 2: To report a post: Click below the post. Then click “Report inappropriate” and follow the on-screen instructions.
5. Block inappropriate users: The very nature of Instagram encourages interaction and social exchange but in some cases, it is this exact feature that can end up becoming a cause for concern for users, especially younger users. In a recent example shared with the ParentsCorner team, a young teen was being privately messaged by a much older user which immediately became a worry for the teen’s parents. After talking through the dangers of these types of interactions with their child, the parents blocked the older user which meant the user could no longer view or make contact with the teen on Instagram. Here’s how to block a user:
• Step 1: Go to their profile and click on the icon on the right of their username.
• Step 2: Select “Block User”.
At ParentsCorner, we encourage and acknowledge the use of social media platforms as a space for interaction and expression when used appropriately. Let your children explore the online world, but don’t let them do it without you guiding them through it.