Instagram is "a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram...it's photo sharing, reinvented." (Retrieved from http://www.instagram.com)
Here is a great post with pictures to explain how Instagram works from YourSphere for Parents.
What Parents Need to Know
"Parents need to know that Instagram is a popular platform for instantly enhancing photos with cool effects and sharing them across a number of social media platforms. The terms specify that users should be at least 13 years old and should not post partially nude or sexually suggestive photos but do not prohibit the portrayal of violence, swear words, or drugs. Users can flag photos for review, but mature content still appears in some photos and in the comment sections. Photos shared in Instagram are public and may have location information unless privacy settings are enabled." (Retrieved from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/mobile-app-reviews/instagram)
Parents also need to know the negative effects of children using Instagram unmonitored. What started as a fun way to share photos with friends and family, has been corrupted by users with a more malicious intent. As most parents do, they speak about appropriate photos to post, privacy settings, and only sharing with people you know. However, this is simply not enough these days. Here are some tips gathered from http://sociallyactive.com/instagram-and-kids-a-parents-guide.
- You can browse through all photos posted by a user by going to Instagram.com/[USER NAME]. You should be monitoring your child's usage daily.
- When you sign up for Instagram you get to create a user name. Make sure your child is not using their real first and last names to create their accounts.
- There is also an optional phone number section where users can submit their phone number as part of their public profile. Do not allow your child to enter this personal information.
- Online predators often create fake accounts to gain access to children's photos (such as family beach vacation photos). Then they can share pictures posted on inappropriate message boards.
- When someone "follows" your child on Instagram, they have access to the user's profile information and photos. This means they know your child's real first name, last name and possibly phone number when they registered for an account, in addition to a photo history of their daily activities.
- Make sure the "Add to Photo Map" option is set to off. This creates a map of where each photo was taken. If your photos are already set to private, then no one (even followers) can see the map. This is also referred to as "geo-tagging."
- If your child doesn't know who the person is in real life, then they should not accept them as a follower. Many children use the number of followers as a competition between other peers - this is not safe.
- Discourage your child to post photos of themselves or friends. If there aren't these photos posted, it increases their online safety.
Here are additional blog posts from parents and educators that give light to the negative activities that occur on Instagram everyday. Thank you to an aware parent at our school for bringing these to my attention! :)