When yesterday’s post about Instagram tips for parents went up, I got an email from one mom point out what I forgot to mention: direct messages. Like many social networks, Instagram offers the users the option to send private, direct messages to one or more users.
Why is this so important? Because users can share pictures and mention others without any notifications. It’s an online private conversation between 2 or 15 users, and can include people who aren’t approved as followers. It works just like email, but has the added cachet of taking place on Instagram (most kids and teens only use email to send assignments to their teachers or write thank you notes to their grandparents).
A few things you need to know if your kid is on Instagram:
-1- With Instagram Direct, your child can send and receive images, videos and messages from strangers and/or unapproved followers. This service makes it impossible to trust that the privacy settings will prevent public interaction.
-2- Remind your kid that nothing they say or share online is private. Images and videos can very easily be reposted and shared, even if it’s part of a “private” Instagram Direct message. While users can delete something they’ve shared even after they’ve sent it, they can never be sure it wasn’t copied or shared by someone else.
-3- Group messaging has been cited by many schools and parents in cyberbullying incidents. The technology itself isn’t guilty – it’s the way groups of kids may decide to use it. Parents should carefully monitor the Instagram Direct messages on their younger kids’ feeds.
-4- Report or block abusive or inappropriate messages. You can report abusive posts that are sent to you by tapping the three dots [ . . . ] below a photo or video post. If you don’t want someone to send a post to you, you can ignore their post in your direct posts by tapping the “x” or you can block that person.