My daughter wants to join Instagram. She says it’s like Facebook. Is this true?
Instagram is an instant photo-sharing program that allows users to take a picture, apply a cool-looking filter to it and share it instantly with friends. Like Facebook, Instagram is a type of social network—users can follow each other, see the photo feeds of those they follow and identify (or “like”) favorite photos and add comments to photos. The app is designed for iPhone and Android mobile phones and can be downloaded at no cost. Photos can also be shared on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.
Like all social networks, there are community rules and requirements, privacy considerations and concerns about postings. Try it out yourself first, and then touch on these important social network topics when discussing Instagram with your daughter:
Be honest about age. Like other popular social networks, the required age for users of Instagram is 13. This standard is in place due to the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, which forbids companies to collect private information from children under the age of 13. There is no age verification—most social networks work on the honor system—however, you’ll send a strong message if you require your child to respect the rules of the community.
Review rules. A quick review of rules and guidelines can help minimize problems later. Visit Instagram’s FAQ page and remind teens to think twice before taking photos or making comments that bully, embarrass or slander. Remind them that anything online can be copied, forwarded and printed out in just seconds of posting—even if they are deleted later on. Thoughtful posting is critical.
Go private. Instagram uses a “follower” model, which means if your profile is public, anyone can follow you on Instagram. There is, however, a private option where users must approve anyone who wants to follow them before their photos can be seen. Parents of young teens should encourage them to use the privacy setting and discourage teens from allowing strangers to follow them on Instagram.
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