To this point, Bedford Youth and Family Services has sponsored a parent assembly titled, "Navigating the Cyber World for Parents of Teens". The assembly will be on Thursday, October 6th from 5:45 - 6:30 pm and will be held in the John Glenn Middle School auditorium. Please note that this assembly will preceed back to school night, which begins at 6:30pm.
Warning signs of concerning unsafe social networking student behavior:
- Difficulties respecting no-phone/technology times
- Anxiety when your child cannot connect to social media, or panic when phone is left behind
- Excessive, hidden, or late night online activities
- Compulsive checking of devices
- Isolation from family or loss of interest in offline recreational activities
While it is certainly common, and very much developmentally appropriate that middle school students seek greater independence from parents, is is essential that parents continually monitor online social media activity. Please consider the comments from Alyson Schafer, an author and public speaker on parenting in the digital age, "Remember, they are preparing for adulthood, and as 'adults in training' they need to be ready to launch into a world without parental supervision. That means that we need to educate and allow them an opportunity for more self-directed or self-disciplined behavior each year. But if your teen is evading or failing to maintain these responsibilities, parents need to discuss their concerns and step in if their teen can't manage to rectify their situation on their own." To this point, supervising middle school student use of social media requires that parents have a clear understanding how various social media apps, such as Instagram, function. As a bit of a disclaimer here: the below information has been pulled from a variety of sources and I have done my best to provide you with direct links to source so that you can learn more.
- The nonprofit organization, Connect-Safely, created this Instragram Parent Guidebook in a PDF. It is worthy of your review.
- Similarily, another organization called SociallyActive published an online article titled, "Instagram & Kids: A parent's guide to privacy and safety."
In an effort to better inform you how Instagram functions, the information below is provided directly from Instagram (which is owned by Facebook). First and foremost, per Instagram's Term of Use the company requires that users are at least 13 years of age, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act; points worth discussing with your middle school student. Should you allow your student to create an Instagram account, I strongly encourage that you create your own Instagram and then follow your child.
(From the Instagram FAQ Website)
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We're building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos.
How does privacy work?
We have adopted a follower model that means if you're "public" on Instagram, anyone can subscribe to follow your photos. We do, however, have a special private option. In this mode, a user can make sure he/she must approve all follow requests before they go through.
Who can see my photos?
All photos are public by default which means they are visible to anyone using Instagram or on the instagram.com website. If you choose to make your account private, then only people who follow you on Instagram will be able to see your photos. Uou may elect to create a private Instagram account. In that case, only users who you approve may follow you and view your photos. Head to your profile tab and scroll down to “Privacy.” There, you may select to make photos private.
Started in 2010, Instagram has always been an almost exclusively mobile platform. Therefore, users must download the iPhone or Android app to a smartphone or other mobile device in order to register an Instagram account. Once registered, users can change the profile picture and edit profile information, which includes a brief 150-character bio and a website.
Once an Instagram account is created users can enable the following push notifications:
- When a user likes or comments on one of your photos.
- When a user @mentions you in a comment.
- When your photo is posted to the Popular page.
- When you are tagged in a photo
Again, because Instagram is a relatively isolated social app that lives inherently on mobile, connecting social accounts and platforms enables a wider network. You may choose to link Instagram to your Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr, and VK accounts. Each time you upload a photo to Instagram, you’ll have the option to share to each of the social networks you’ve enabled, or to none. If you choose to share to no social networks, the photo will post only to Instagram, viewable only by those users who follow you on the app. Instagram also enables a wide variety of filters for users to edit and enhance uploaded images.
When an account is set to private, they will get a notification any time someone wants to follow them. They can choose whether to approve it or not. The image to the right shows what you need to click on to set this properly. Please note that the source of much of this information is taken directly from a Mashable article titled, 'Beginner's Guide to Instagram'.
Understand there will be some pushback here. For many kids (and adults), social media is about the number of followers they can get, the number of likes they can tally for their images. Some kids promise in their profile descriptions that they will always follow back. The screenshot Instagram account below is from the article, "Your Kid Wants an Instagram Account? What Parents Need to Know". As you can see below, Instagram allows other users to comment on posted images.
In addition to images, Instagram also allows users to upload video files. With Instagram video, you can record short video clips ranging anywhere from three to fifteen seconds long.
This feature is a direct messaging function that allows Instagram users to privately exchange messages or pictures. You can read more about the Instagram Direct feature here in the online tips for parents article. It’s an online private conversation between 2 or 15 users, and can include people who aren’t approved as followers.
Your child should review when a friend tags them in a picture or description (they will get a notification from Instagram). If they don’t like the picture or what is being said, they need to contact that friend to ask them to remove the tag and/or take the picture down. Every user needs to learn how to monitor mentions and images of themselves online.
Blocking & Removing Followers
Your child can also remove followers and block other people on Instagram. When they block another person, that person can't view your child's photos/videos or search for their Instagram account. People aren't notified when they're blocked. Learn more about blocking people.
As a parent, please understand that you can temporarily disable your child's Instagram account or even delete the account permanently. Here is how to do both.
Temporarily Disable Instagram Account:
If you decide to temporarily disable an Instagram account, the account, photos, comments and likes will be hidden, but not deleted, until it is reactivated by logging back in. To temporarily disable your account:
- Log into instagram.com from a mobile browser or computer. You can't temporarily disable your account from within the Instagram app.
- Click your username in the top right and then select Edit Profile.
- Click Temporarily disable my account in the bottom right and follow the on-screen instructions. Please note that you will need to be able to log into your account to temporarily disable it.
Permanently Delete Instagram Account:
When you delete your account, your profile, photos, videos, comments, likes and followers will be permanently removed. After you delete your account, you can't sign up again with the same username or add it to another existing account, and we can't reactivate the account. To permanently delete your account:
- Go to the Delete Your Account page. If you're not logged into Instagram on the web, you'll be asked to log in first.
- Select an option from the drop-down menu next to Why are you deleting your account? and re-enter your password. The option to permanently delete your account will only appear after you've selected a reason from the menu.
- Click or tap Permanently delete my account.