Instagram is a popular photo and video sharing and social networking site with millions of users. It is the quickest growing major social media site currently.
- 1 million users to end 2010
- 4 short years later, 300 million active users PER month
- 26% of the US population uses the site
- 53% of young adults (19-26) are on Instagram
- Instagram is the top photograph site for kids 13 to 17
- Since users must be 13 to join, no data is available for the 12 and under user group but some research has reported 29% of youth aged 6-12 have an account on one of the major social media sites.
What is Instagram?
It’s an app that permits users to post pictures and videos taken with their smartphone to a social network. People within a user’s network then like and comment on those images and vice versa. You can also write out a message, photograph the paper and post it.
Many users report the draw to the site is the ability to be artistic. It is true that here are many beautiful photos on Instagram, but it can be a photo of anything. You see a bit of everything in Instagram from pictures of ice cream sundaes and sunsets to inappropriate images of alcohol and drug use.
Instagram and Kids
Like other social media sites, Instagram users must be aged 13 or older to have an account but lacks a consistent way to assure the age of new users. You can report an underage user to Instagram and the site offers instructions for how parents can delete an account as well.
It is also important to note that Instagram reveals a user’s location. When logging in, you are able to view a map of other Instagram users in your immediate area as well as exactly where they are currently. Instagram also geotags shared photos. (A geotag is data stored in a photo that reveals the exact location of where a photo was taken using latitude and longitude. This location can be accurate to within a few feet, almost anywhere on the planet).
What can I do as a parent?
User Bios are visible to ALL others on the site. These bios can include a wealth of personal information up to including such things as a phone number. Sit down with your child and review what information they are putting out there.
Instagram gives users two options for privacy settings: private or public. Public setting allows ANYONE signed into the Instagram app full access to view photos or videos. The private setting restricts viewing to only those who have been given access. This occurs thru sending a follow request. Make sure you talk to your child about the dangers of allowing friends of friends or even strangers as followers. The number of followers kids have is often quite high and typically includes people you don’t know.
Finally, there are a number of PC and Web-monitoring tools on the market that monitor online behavior either thru an online service or software that can be downloaded to your child’s mobile device.
Additional resources can be accessed with this helpful guide.