Your children are using their smartphones to snap pictures of themselves, food, Mother Nature and other random things. But, where do all these pictures go? Chances are they are going onto Instagram. If you’ve never heard of this application, here’s a short introduction to give you a brief idea of what it is.
WHAT IS INSTAGRAM?
Instagram, with over 85 million photos and videos uploaded per day1, is a popular photo-sharing app for smartphones. Users can simply snap photos on their devices, apply a filter to make the photos look amazing and share them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. They can also follow each other to receive updates whenever someone posts a photo, ‘like’ the photo and comment on it.
Recently, a survey also showed that more young users are moving away from Facebook and to Instagram to avoid “trivial life details, “drama” from friends, and the watchful eyes of [stalking] parents”2.
Interestingly, the app does not just serve as a simple photo-sharing app but has also been improvised by young users to make it become Facebook-like. Kids now post videos, comments and even screenshots of typed texts to update their status and profiles and communicate with others on Instagram just like how they do it on Facebook.
Instagram has also introduced Instagram Stories, which allows users to post ‘live’ streaming content as well as short video posts that remains on the user’s ‘Story’ for 24 hours. This broadens the appeal of Instagram and invites users to visit the platform more frequently and for a longer duration.
ISSUES ON INSTAGRAM
- Privacy Issues
Yes, your children may be producing some of the most gorgeous-looking photos and they want to upload it onto Instagram to show them off to others. But, it is important to note that all photos your kids upload are, by default, public. This means that anyone and everyone can view their photos and profiles, unless they change the settings to make their photos and profiles private to allow only those who follow them to see whatever that is posted. A picture speaks a thousand words, so don’t underestimate the amount of information that even a simple picture can convey.
- You can help manage your child’s privacy setting with them by encouraging them to set their setting to private. Talk to them about the importance of verifying who they are accepting as followers. This privacy setting is easily done by going to Instagram’s setting.
- Dangers of Uploading Personal Photos
One of the most dangerous things your children can do on Instagram is to upload pictures of themselves and other people, especially if their accounts are not private. This opens up the possibility of having the photos landing in the wrong hands and being misused by others like cyber bullies and even paedophiles.
- Advise your child to not post photos that will reveal their identity or who they are associated with. If they do like to post photos of their faces, minimise the amount of information in the comments sections.
- Geo-tagging Dangers
When a photo is uploaded onto Instagram, it will be tagged to the geographical location it was taken at if your children enable the geotagging feature. This means that anybody and everybody will be able to track the exact address of where the photo was snapped at using Google Street View.
Just imagine having the public know your residential address if your children tag a photo to your home – it could invite burglars, child molesters or any other individuals who could endanger their safety.
CONNECTING THROUGH INSTAGRAM
- Follow Each Other
Following each other on Instagram is a good way for you and your children to bond with each other. Besides keeping yourselves in the loop of your children’s lives, photographs give the family something common to talk and laugh about. If your children posted pictures of some delicious-looking food, ask them where they had it and even get them to take the family to the restaurant. Such constant communication will help bring the entire family closer together.
- Constructive Use to Empower Strengths
If your child is creative and inclined to visuals and graphics, you can encourage them to pick a theme periodically and craft their posts to revolve around that theme. Pose a monthly challenge to siblings to see who can come up with the most humourous and witty captions. This will turn Instagram into a tool to affirm their real world strengths, and gives you opportunities to let your child know how much you value them.