Instagram allows users to share posts with their followers through their feed, Stories, Live, Direct, or IGTV. Teenagers are drawn to Instagram as it allows them to share milestones and aspects of their daily lives, communicate with their loved ones, establish support communities, or meet other people who share their interests. Anyone can see your teen’s post unless it is set to private. That being said, Instagram may pose threats to your teen, especially in terms of privacy and safety.
Survey On Technology and Social Media Among US Teens (2018)
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 85% of US teens said they use YouTube, followed by Instagram (72%), Snapchat (69%), Facebook (51%), Twitter (32%), Tumblr (9%), Reddit (7%), and none of the platforms (3%), reported Monica Anderson and Jingjing Jiang.
35% of US teens said they often use Snapchat, along with YouTube (32%), Instagram (15%), Facebook (10%), Twitter (3%), and Reddit (1%). Lower-income teenagers (70% of those from households earning less than $30k) were more likely than those that earn $30k-$74,999 (56%) and $75k or more (36%) to use Facebook. Girls (42%) were more likely than boys (29%) to report using Snapchat often. Meanwhile, boys (39%) were more likely than girls (25%) to consider YouTube as their go-to platform.
31% of US teens said social media has had a mostly positive effect on people their own age. Their main reasons for choosing this answer include connecting with friends/family (40%), it's easier to find news/info (16%), meeting others with the same interests (15%), it keeps them entertained/upbeat (9%), self-expression (7%), getting support (5%), and learning new things (4%).
45% said social media has had neither a positive nor negative effect on people their own age while 24% answered “mostly negative.” Of those, the respondents mentioned bullying/rumor spreading (27%), harming relationships/lack of in-person contact (17%), unrealistic views of others’ lives (15%), causing distractions/addiction (14%), peer pressure (12%), causing mental health issues (4%), and drama (3%).
With regard to the respondents’ choice of device, 88% of US teens said they have or have access to a desktop or laptop computer while 95% have or have access to a smartphone. However, teens from households earning $30k-$74,999 and $75k or more have or have access to a desktop or laptop compared to households with an income of less than $30k (75%).
The 2018 report also found that 45% of teens are online almost constantly compared to 2014-2015’s 24%. In 2014-2015, more teens reported being online several times a day (56%), unlike 2018’s 44%, so as those who said they are online less often (20% versus 2018’s 11%).
How Does My Teen Post Content On Instagram?
Users can take a picture or up to 60 seconds of video, customizing it with fillers and other tools to make it more appealing. Users can write captions and include hashtags related to their post. They can also turn on location, tag people, and have the opportunity to share with their followers or a third-party app like Facebook.
When posting content via Instagram Stories, you need to be aware that it can be captured by other people so don’t assume that your teen’s post will be irretrievable in the next 24 hours. California-based non-profit Connect Safely recommended that parents ask their teen about the inner workings of Instagram. In fact, your teen will be glad to teach you anything and everything about using Instagram.
What Are the Risks of Letting My Teen Use Instagram?
It’s as risky as any other platform, said Amy Morin, LCSW of Verywell Family, a parenting website. For example, your teen may come across child predators or bullies on Instagram. Flattering photos could also impact your child’s body image and trigger their fear of missing out (FOMO).
Moreover, they can also be pressured to look good on social media all the time, with some teens spending a lot of time trying to take the perfect selfie and seeing what type of reaction they get from their post. But with your help, your child can manage to mitigate the aforementioned risks. For instance, you can set limits on what your teen is allowed to post and employ measures to keep them safe while using Instagram.
How Do I Help My Child Use Instagram Wisely?
Remind your teen that what they post represents them into the future. Ask how their post will reflect their future. If you think your teen’s post might hurt future job prospects, jeopardize a relationship, or hurt their loved one’s feelings, tell them to consider not posting the photo or video.
Ask your teen, "What message do you want to convey to your followers?" Your teen should also consider the background of a photo or video. What were the people doing at the time? Where was it taken? Double-check your teen’s post to see if there is any identifiable information such as a landmark or the name of their high school. This also applies to hashtags. Unintentionally revealing one’s location might make child predators stalk your child.
Tell your child to block the abuser if they are harassed such as being repeatedly tagged in photos they don’t like, sending them a lot of messages, or forcing them to engage in a creepy conversation. This way, the harasser will not be able to tag, contact, or mention your child in the comments. A blocked user will be unable to see or search for your teen’s account. Don’t worry, the person is not notified and they can be unblocked anytime.
To control how much time your teen spends on Instagram, tap the “Your Activity” option in the settings menu and you will see a dashboard that shows the average time your child spends on the app. Tap any bar to see their total time. Set a reminder to notify your teen when they have reached the amount of time they want to spend on Instagram, which is activated below the dashboard. Moreover, you and your teen have the option to change or cancel the reminder.
For parents, using Instagram might involve a bit of a learning curve. Parents might have difficulty navigating the world of social media, but it is their duty to learn the peculiarities of digital technologies. With time and dedication, both parents and children may become more savvy social media users.