By Susan Heckler
Instagram is a photo sharing mobile app that’s available on some smart phones. Users choose to upload a photo from their device’s library or take a picture or up to 15 seconds of video and customize media with filters and other enhancement tools, similar to Photoshop.
The user can then immediately upload this photo to a number of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, depending on which ones they sync to their Instagram account. The photo will also be uploaded to the Instagram community where people can ‘like’ and comment on it for the entire world to possibly see. Instagram is a photo-sharing social network on its own. Users have a profile with the option to fill out personal information such as first and last name, username, birthday, gender, bio, email address and phone number. Popular photos from all over the world are shared under the “Popular” tab, and every user has the option to follow other Instagram users and vice versa.
It sounds like fun but there are a few issues parents need to be fully aware of. You want your child to have fun but as a parent, it is your obligation to protect their safety.
Parents, you need to monitor. Know your child’s password and check their accounts to see both what they are posting and who is following them. Parents should also be on Instagram, become familiar with the site and follow their kids, and also teach them to be aware and stay safe online. The same goes with similar apps, Ask.fm, Snapchat, Kik, Whisper, and Tinder.
The only information required to sign up for Instagram is an email address and desired username. A phone number is optional. The person viewing your child’s photo is essentially anonymous, and anyone can download a photo unless your profile is private. Make sure to protect your child’s privacy before entering a phone number and set your profile to private so anyone who wants to see your photos will need to be your friend.Bios are visible to all and can be where predators start looking for underage victims. Your child can easily accept anyone into their private network.
During the process of uploading a photo, the geo-location data of the photo you’re uploading can easily be shared with your followers. Anyone can learn the location of your child. Fortunately, geotagging is off by default, but you need to make sure it stays off.
Instagram is not for children under the age of 13, and over that age is really up to the parent. You know your child and their maturity and responsibility level. There isn’t even a 1999 year to choose when signing up, so Instagram has acknowledged this. There are a lot of inappropriate posts and inappropriate people on Instagram that you will not want your child exposed to. There are approximately 150 million monthly users internationally. Many of the younger age group uses the service to circumnavigate parental screening.
Instagram has a help center for parents on their website www.instagram.com. They offer advice for the safety and security of your child. Assume no one else will look after your child’s welfare and take your role as a parent seriously. It is part of loving your children.