Your kids are using Instagram: Is it safe?

Your kids are using Instagram: Is it safe?

Instagram is the latest social media craze. With more than 100 million users, the social media phone app is especially popular with tweens and teens.

But parents should know it’s not immune to the problems that plague other social media.

Just ask the seventh-grade girls in a church youth group co-led by KATU Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah.  Like typical tweens, they love clothes, cell phones and social media.

Of the 11 girls gathered for a cookie-making party, only one is on Facebook and one on Twitter. But half the girls use Instagram and the others want to.

Instagram is an app used to easily share photos with captions.

“This is where you can see who's liked your photos and who's commented,” demonstrates Kate, 13.

Like Twitter, people can follow you, and you can follow them.

“Do you follow any celebrities?” asks Bailey-Shah.

“I follow Justin Bieber,” says Kate enthusiastically.  In fact, Justin Bieber has 4.3 million Instagram followers.

The girls have followers, too. Molly, also 13, posted a photo from the KATU interview. Her followers started commenting within three seconds!

“How many times a day do you check Instagram?” asks Bailey-Shah.

The girls confess to checking Instagram 10 to 30 times a day... sometimes more.

“Like, all the time,” admits Jenna, age 13.

The girls insist Instagram is more fun than texting because of the photo sharing.

“You can know what other people are doing,” says Lauren, 12.

“And you feel a lot more connected (to your friends),” adds Jenna.

The girls say their parents believe than Instagram is safer than Facebook. But like all social media, Instagram has its pitfalls.
  
“I’ve seen pages that have been made just to bully someone,” says Molly.

“One person tried to follow me that was a naked account, you know,” says Kate. “I blocked it.”

Instagram users can delete, block, and report inappropriate posts for review.

But the Problem Solvers urge parents to do more:

•    Make sure all your child's photos are set to private.

•    Turn off geotagging, the function that shows where your child's photos were taken.

•    Follow your kids’ Instagram accounts.

•    Take your child's phone daily and check his/her feed - the photos, he/she is getting from other users.
 
Your kids aren’t on Instagram, you say? It may be only a matter of time before they ask.

To sign up for Instagram, you are supposed to be at least 13 years old. However, many of the app’s users admit to being younger than the requirement.
 

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