As a parent, it’s important to know what apps are the most popular with tweens and teens when discussing online safety. Whether it is dating apps or instant access to media, teenagers are constantly placed in situations where they must know how to act appropriately. One such place where this is especially crucial is Instagram.
Since launching in 2010, Instagram has grown to more than 400 million active users. The service, which began as a photo sharing platform, is now a primary method for teens who are looking to connect and communicate with their peers. This idea of digital “connectedness” is integral to what it means to be teen in today’s society. It simply isn’t a feasible option to restrict all access from your child. With that said, many tweens or teenagers – are not mature or responsible enough to handle managing their own social media identity. Here are three questions you can use to start the security advice conversation about safe Instagram use with your family.
Is your account private?
By default, Instagram accounts are public. This means that anyone with web access can see what is posted on the account. Accounts are usually public for one of two reasons; either the user doesn’t know it is not private, or they don’t feel that they have anything to hide and therefore there is no reason to secure the account. Discuss with your child why it is important to keep an Instagram account private. Think of it this way – even if you had no valuables in your car, would you feel comfortable leaving all of the doors unlocked? Even if it is innocent pictures of friends and family, your child needs to recognize that their content is vulnerable.
Do you know your followers? Do you know who is following you?
Many teens feel that there is a social etiquette when it comes to Instagram followers. Simply put, if someone follows you, you follow back. While this reciprocation seems polite, it allows strangers easy access into a private account. It is commonplace for anonymous or parody accounts to be created for a school, sport team, or other organization that your child may belong to. Just because the name is familiar, doesn’t mean that the account is safe. Discuss with your teen the importance of knowing exactly who has created an account before they follow it. Make sure they understand that a familiar name or account picture does not necessarily make the account safe to follow.
Are your posts appropriate?
Many teens get a sense of false safety when they feel that they are protected behind a private account. Smart phones and tablets make it easy to screenshot content and then share across other accounts or platforms. Many teens find trouble when images or text that were shared on one account are captured in a screenshot and shared with other people. Discuss with your teen how anything posted on the web becomes permanently accessible and out of their control. The Internet never forgets. This is an important message to share regarding all online activity, not just Instagram.
What else can parents do?
Conversations about social media use with your child should be an open opportunity to discuss what they are posting, who they’re posting it with, and whether it is appropriate to post in the first place. Understanding these makes teens more responsible online, but also establishes norms and etiquette that not only applies to Instagram, but across other social media platforms as well.
Setting boundaries with apps like Instagram is always easier when you use a trustworthy mobile parental control software. Netsanity offers a suite of services , like their appblocker, where certain social media and other internet-based apps are profiled and parents can easily block and unblock apps like Instagram as well as others with a one-click solution. They have a 14-day free trial, so it’s worth checking out if your teen has a mobile device.
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