by Barry Crutchfield (ToxicApps.com) “Our goal is to make Instagram a friendly, fun and, most importantly, safe place for self expression,” said Instagram’s head of public policy, Nicky Jackson Colaco, in a statement to The Washington Post.
Instagram is the most popular photo sharing app in history and is an excellent place for your teen to begin using social media. As a parent, I like Instagram for 7 specific reasons:
- Simultaneous Sign In
- Instagram Controls Pornography
- Instagram Controls Hashtags
- Privacy Settings
- No Hyperlinks in Comments
- Turn Off Comments (coming soon)
- Filter Comments (coming soon)
Simultaneous Sign In:
Instagram allows a person to have up to 5 accounts open at one time and toggle between each account. For parents of young teens this is ideal because you can keep tabs on your child’s posts, comments and followers. I find this feature extremely helpful when coaching my teen on proper social media behavior. In addition, it’s a real eyeopener into his world and a good view of some of the temptations that come his way. I do not consider monitoring my minor’s Instagram account spying. He understood from day one that both Rachel and I would have full access to his account.
Instagram Controls Pornography:
Instagram strictly prohibits hard core pornography and addresses any issues rather quickly compared to other social media sites. Having said that, there is content that pushes the envelope and in some very rare cases, hardcore porn makes its way through only to be quickly deleted by Instagram. Compared to other popular social media apps, Instagram tends to run a very tight ship when it comes to controlling pornography and other offensive content.
Instagram Controls Hashtags:
When a public post contains a hashtag in the comments, Instagram groups that photo post with every other post containing the same hashtag. This is neat when you are trying to sell something, but can pose a problem for some, especially minors. Instagram can outright ban a hashtag or limit the images displayed using a specific tag. Obvious tags like #anal, #bitches, #cock, etc. are completely banned while tags like #thick, #snap, #oovoo and #pixie are closely monitored by Instagram. For a complete list of banned hashtags click here to read Don’t Even Try Using These Hashtags by Damon Beres. BTW, I do not allow my young teen to use hashtags in his posts!
I like Instagram settings because you can prevent strangers from browsing through your photos and you can block specific users, even if they are not following you. I have a deal with my son that he will only allow people he personally knows to follow him. In addition, I will review his followers on a regular basis to ensure his safety. So far I have blocked about 5 spammers attempting to follow my son (see Friendventory article by Toxic Apps Blog 7/29/16).
No Hyperlinks in Comments:
Instagram is fairly simple in that a user must post a photo or video in order to create an actual post. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, users cannot post articles or links to other websites in the comments field. This prevents users from stumbling upon spam sites or other websites. Most Instagram users appreciate the fact that their walls are not cluttered with hyperlinks, news articles, and never-ending solicitations for weight loss powder:).
Turn Off Comments (coming soon):
According to The Washington Post, Instagram will soon allow users to disable comments by other users. This is great news and should cut down on cyber bullying. It shows me that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, continues to promote a positive environment that is relatively safe for teens.
Filter Comments (coming soon):
According to Hayley Tsukayama, Instagram will soon let users block specific words from appearing in comments made about their photo posts. Again, this is great news from Instagram and once again shows their dedication to protecting the user.
I will monitor the last two features and post an article when they are made available to the public. I will also create some helpful videos demonstrating these features when available.
Reminder: Instagram does not allow users under the age of 13 to have their own account. Some families choose to create a family account that they share with pre-teens.
My name is Barry Crutchfield and I live in Austin Texas with my wife, three boys and a dog. I am cofounder of Toxic Apps LLC, a company dedicated to keeping children safe in today’s digital world. For more information please visit http://www.toxixapps.com
Please follow us on social media:
The descriptions of and warnings related to the various Apps discussed herein are based on opinions of Toxic Apps, LLC, and have been developed in a good-faith effort to educate parents of minors and to define risks for children. Others may have wholly different opinions.