Everybody knows Instagram is the photo-sharing app that kids love and parents … tolerate.
But here’s a few things about Insta we bet you didn’t know.
‘Private’ doesn’t equal ‘safe’
Kids often tell their parents their account is safe because it’s been set to private, viewable by invitation only. What they don’t tell mum and dad is that from their private account they can still view any publicly posted content they want to. And of course almost all of the problematic material on Instagram - the porn, violence, gore, and animal cruelty for example - is public.
Oh, and having a private profile won’t prevent your child from chatting with others through direct messages (see below) - or receiving message requests from strangers, including potential predators.
Pics, yes - but words too!
Don’t let those photos fool you. Yes, Instagram is a photo-sharing app. But that’s only one tiny slice of its functionality. Just ask any of the 72% of our 13- to 17-year-olds, who use it every day.
For its young users, Instagram is very much a private messaging platform - a way for users to connect one-on-one or in groups through the chat feature called the DM, or direct message.
In contrast to comments, which are publicly displayed, DMs are private, and therefore often used in a romantic context. DMs can also be used to send ‘vanishing’ photos, a la Snapchat - making the feature popular with kids who sext.
No nudity - and heaps of porn
So here’s a riddle for you: how can a social platform that specifically bans nudity - and even has algorithm to identify nipples, allegedly - be chockful of porn?
Theories abound. Is Insta making money off explicit material? Are they short-staffed? Only one thing is clear: porn is incredibly easy to find on Istagram (and apparently incredibly resistant to deletion).
Self-harm content still painfully evident
Following reports that graphic self-harm material was not being removed by the platform, Sky News conducted its own investigation. The media organisation reported a number of disturbing and graphic images to the site. This week it reported that, a month later, the content still hadn’t been taken down.
For vulnerable teens, such images can be dangerously triggering.
Most 'liked' Insta photo ever?
Once upon a time, that honour was held by Kylie Jenner, whose pic announcing the birth of daughter Stormi last year racked up 18 million likes. Recently, that record was cracked. By an egg.
The egg photo was posted on 4 January and swiftly garnered more than 25 million likes - leaving Kylie with plenty of your-know-what on her face.
Cyberbullying has bloomed like an out-of-control virus during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in this case, handwashing - or for that matter ...
We know these things can happen when kids go online. But not our kids. So let's just say "We heard about a child who ..."
It's not just how much screen-time we use. It's the way we use it.