Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Sept. 9, 2013

Is It Time You Had “The Talk” About Instagram?

Project Administrator, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)

Instagram just announced they have an active monthly user base of 150 million. If you aren’t on Instagram, that number probably doesn’t mean much to you. But I’m here to tell you that it should. 

In July, over 1 million teens accessed Instagram in the US alone. And if yours was one of them, you should know the basics: what the app does, how it works, and how to talk to your teen about navigating it’s privacy and sharing settings. 

Let’s break it down. 

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that lets users take photos or upload ones that already exist in their camera’s library. 

Once a user takes or selects a photo they can add artistic filters, and upload them to their personal profile with hashtags and comments. Uploaded photos are instantly shared with a user’s Instagram followers and can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or email. Within the app, users can also like photos, comment on photos, search hashtags, and find friends through other social sites. 

[Instagram search image]

[Strawberries of instagram]

Given that there are so many opportunities to connect with external networks and with others inside the app, there are some privacy considerations to make. 

Talk with your teens about their account. Do you want access to their passwords? Have they set safe passwords and do they understand the importance of keeping them private? 

Discuss sharing settings. Do they know what they are sharing and with whom? Have a chat about their online reputation and the type of image they want to create for themselves online. Are the photos they post or comment on ones they would be comfortable with you or their teachers seeing? 

Apps and social networks like Instagram increase in popularity every day. And it’s clear from the numbers you read that the trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. 

So, let’s have the privacy and reputation conversations early and often – understanding how new technologies work so we can talk with kids and ensure they have the tools they need to interact safely. 

Cover image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons