Parents should be aware of which social media sites their children are subscribed to and how each of them function. These sites use Internet connections to connect their users so that they can engage in conversation or share pictures and videos. These social media sites have applications which use information and resources from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
Teens are abandoning traditional social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter for Instagram. Instagram is quickly gaining popularity among teens. Instagram is used on a smartphone or tablet and users mostly share photos and videos with each other and are able to comment on each other’s posts.
Here is a rundown of known dangers related to teen use of social media site Instagram.
1. By default, information shared via Instagram is viewable by anyone with an Instagram account. This means that photos, locations and any personal information posted from the smartphone app. Account settings must be adjusted correctly in order to keep strangers from viewing posted content. Something as simple as not adjusting a setting can result in an Instagram page that gives too much information to the wrong individuals.
2. Instagram is available exclusively on mobile devices such as iPhones, iPad, iPods and on Android phones and tablets. Mobile devices can often be left to far less scrutiny than their desktop and laptop counterparts. Because the devices are smaller and more personal than desktop computers, teens are prone to using their devices in ways unbeknown to their parents. Children as young as thirteen could be innocuously using Instagram without their parents’ knowledge on an iPod, iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet.
3. Teens often share too much information such as their phone number, first and last name, where they ate last night, etc. Teens don’t always have the best judgment when it comes to what kind of information is OK to share and which information should be kept on a need-to-know basis only. Of course, teens should consider if what they are sharing is something they would be comfortable sharing with their parents, but they should also consider that certain information such as home address or phone number should only be shared with known and trusted individuals.
4.Teenage girls are vulnerable to self-image issues or competition for online attention. Since much of Instagram is focused around photographs, the overuse of selfies is a natural stumbling block for teens who obsess over their self-image. Someone who gains their self-worth with constant affirmations of their image can end up with hurt feelings when friends don’t comment as desired or they are insulted when losing online beauty pageants.
5. Photos might be tagged and shared with a GPS location. This is a feature with photo sharing that comes with some risks if the setting is overlooked. Photos taken on mobile devices will often have digital timestamps with GPS locations built in when the image is captured. It is easy to accidentally share one’s home location when posting an image. As long as an image is viewable with a location, there will be more people who will be able to gain insight into where the poster spends their time.
6. Complete strangers have the ability to contact your teen based on their profile photo. Since Instagram is centered around photos, it is easy for fraudsters to steal photos from others and pose as someone’s friend. With any social media, it is important that teens only follow and share with people they know in real life. They should be able to explain who each person is on their friends list and how they know that person. Teens and parents should both be on the lookout for users who ask too many questions or seem to behave oddly.
7. Adult users post explicit material. Instagram does not have an automatic filter or moderator. Teens may willingly or unwillingly come across content not suitable for their age group. Photos of all sorts of debauchery could make it to their screens if they hang out with the wrong cyber-crowd. Parents who follow their children through social media will be able to see the friends they associate with and determine if they are accessing material or sharing ideas which would be inappropriate.