On Monday I had the opportunity to visit the Instagram and Facebook Headquarters in London. I was attending a conference hosted by Instagram and Mumsnet that focussed on protecting our teens in a digital age.
I didn’t really know what to expect but I really did learn a lot about what Instagram have been doing to try and ensure the internet is a safe and kind place for the younger generation who use Instagram.
The theme of the event was #TimeWellSpent and the aim is for those over 13 years of age to be able to spend their time online wisely and safely.
Some of the things I learnt from the event were that:
- We can keep safe and be happy online in the digital world.
- Kids under 13 cannot own an Instagram account
- Instagram does not tolerate bullying or harassment
- Instagram does not allow Nudity, violence or the promotion of self harm.
Parenting Tips for Teens on Instagram
Although my daughter is not quite at the age of owning her own Instagram account. She will eventually be 13 and will most likely want to own her own Instagram. As a parent there are things I will be able do to help protect and keep my child safe during her Instagram experience.
It’s important to talk and discuss Instagram and online safety with my child. This is not just a one off thing but something I can discuss regularly and talk about often so my daughter is comfortable chatting about Instagram and social media with me.
Instagram accounts can be set and managed with privacy settings. Controlling the audience, who see’s your child’s account and engages with your child can be very important. You can discuss what your child wishes to share with a large audience versus what they would share with those closer to them. It’s a fine balancing act and something to consider when setting up an account.
Your child can manage comments on their Instagram feed. At the moment Instagram is able to detect and recognise bullying phrases and certain language and can automatically block comments which are designed to hurt the user.
Whilst this is great, bullying and nasty comments may slip through but there are options to filter certain words, block users and even turn off commenting.
Think About Who You Follow
It’s important for teens and adults to think about who we follow. You don’t have to follow someone forever. You can unfollow someone if you don’t like their content, feel uncomfortable or simply have no more interest in their account.
It’s okay to unfollow someone.
You can also mute accounts, report things that need reporting and once again block anyone you don’t want to see or engage with.
Manage Your Screen Time
Managing screen time is something we could all improve on at times. Instagram have created the option to monitor and check screen time so we can better balance and see how much time we use on Instagram and make an effort to spend our online time well.
Wholesome and Worthy Causes
Instagram can be and will be used for social expression and communication by our teens, however their is much more to using Instagram than simply chatting and sharing photos.
Whilst at Instagram headquarters I had the opportunity to meet some fantastic teenagers and young people using Instagram as a platform for good.
Teens can share their experiences, art, promote messages, share ideas and much more. I met a fantastic young woman who like me shares her health journey on Instagram and it was great to hear how sharing illness online can help someone to feel less isolated. I totally get that. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past 4 years.
At the Instagram event I met a wonderful young woman Ailbhe from Dublin who has an Instagram account called Izzy Wheels. This is a fantastic account by Izzy & Ailbhe and shares wheelchair wheel covers which are modelled on Instagram. I think it’s brilliant and being a part time wheelchair user myself, I was really intrigued.
There were young women who promote beauty, body positivity and self love. Being real and not fake is such an important message. There are far too many edited and “perfect” looking bodies in magazines and online but Instagram can allow us to be more authentic, especially as we use Instagram stories.
I had a fantastic time. I was inspired to continue on with my Instagram Journey. I recently hit ten thousand followers which is fabulous and my social media focus in 2019 will be growing and developing my Instagram account.
I have ideas and things I want to share about my life, our style and about living with chronic illness. I have some time to think about Instagram and the role it will play in my daughter’s life as she becomes a teenager.
I have confidence that dialogue is being opened and things are being put in place to help create a safe and happy environment for the younger generation online. I’d like to see how this is covered in schools in the future as it’s a key part of our children’s lives.
Social media is not perfect and there will always be new developments and more applications and tools.
We live in a digital age and the best thing we can do as parents, rather than prevent and ban our kids from using social media, is to regularly discuss social media and build a strong relationship with our child to enable us to help them have a safe and enriching experience on social media and Instagram.
Mumsnet covered my travel costs to attend the event. I am choosing to write and share this post as I feel it is an important topic to discuss.