Social media platforms have become an integral part of modern life, and Instagram is no exception. Instagram Threads, a messaging app developed by Instagram, aims to provide a more private and intimate space for close friends to connect. While it offers some unique features, many parents are concerned about its safety, especially when it comes to their children's online interactions. In this blog, we'll explore the potential risks associated with Instagram Threads for kids and the steps parents can take to ensure their children's online safety.
What is Instagram Threads?
Instagram Threads is a standalone messaging app designed to allow users to share photos, videos, and messages with their close friends on Instagram. It offers a more focused and private space for real-time communication, enabling users to create specific lists of close friends and share their updates exclusively with them.
What is the Difference Between Threads and Instagram?
With an aim to become the newest Twitter competitor, Instagram Threads is designed to be a more intimate and casual platform than the main Instagram app. Instagram is more focused on getting visual updates from the people you follow, slightly guided by captions. However, although it is able to host videos and other multimedia at a high resolution, Threads is primarily focused on text-based threads that can be supplemented with imagery, and allows users to post up to 500 characters in an individual post.
There are some distinct features of this new app:
- Users are served content based on an algorithm, rather than on a chronological basis.
- It is currently a mobile-only app.
- The search bar only allows you to look for users to follow, rather than allowing you to search for conversation and trending topics.
- At the moment, users cannot direct message, search for hashtags, or advertise on Thread.
- Users are also able to post videos or photos at high resolution.
- Posts can be shared on Instagram stories.
Instagram Threads Ideas: Best Practices for Instagram Threads
Unlike the original Instagram platform, Instagram Threads allows you to include clickable links in captions and comments, and drive traffic to a desired destination. Threads can be used to share experiences, tell stories, and offer insights. You can add photos, videos, links, and even GIFs to your post.
Some top tips when it comes to creating engaging content:
- First, create a bio that grabs attention and reflects your brand’s personality.
- When it comes to the content, make posts engaging and valuable by choosing relatable topics that will resonate with your audience.
- Interacting with others is the best way to boost engagement on Instagram Threads, so invite your followers to engage by asking questions, and encouraging them to share thoughts and opinions.
How Instagram Threads Affect Young People: Risks Associated with Instagram Threads for Kids
As with any social media platform, Instagram Threads comes with certain risks, particularly when used by children and young teenagers:
- Privacy Concerns: While Threads promotes privacy by limiting communication to close friends, it still requires users to share personal information. Children may inadvertently disclose sensitive details that could be exploited by online predators or malicious individuals.
- Inappropriate Content: Despite privacy settings, kids can still be exposed to inappropriate content if their close friends share it within the app. There is a risk of cyberbullying, harassment, or exposure to adult content.
- Stranger Danger: Children may receive friend requests or messages from unknown individuals who pose as close friends. This can lead to interactions with strangers and put kids at risk.
- Geolocation Sharing: Threads include an automatic location-sharing feature, which can potentially compromise the safety and privacy of kids.
- Digital Addiction: Social media platforms, including Instagram Threads, can lead to excessive screen time and contribute to digital addiction, affecting a child's mental health and well-being.
Parental Controls on Instagram Threads
Threads actually provide options to remove recommendations, which can help teach the algorithm about the user’s preferences. You can do this by clicking on the three dots on the right side of the thread and then the options of “Unfollow, Mute, Hide, or Report ” will appear. This will remove a particular type of content from your kids’ feed, and teach the platform your likes and dislikes.
Tips for Parents to Ensure Online Safety
To protect their children from potential risks associated with Instagram Threads, parents can take proactive measures:
- Open Communication: Talk to your child about the potential dangers of social media and encourage open communication about their online experiences.
- Set Privacy Settings: Help your child configure privacy settings on Threads to ensure that only known and trusted friends can communicate with them.
- Supervise Usage: Monitor your child's activities on social media platforms, including Threads, and set time limits for usage.
- Educate about Strangers: Teach your child about the importance of not accepting friend requests or engaging in conversations with strangers online.
- Promote Digital Literacy: Educate your child about responsible social media usage and the importance of sharing information only with trusted individuals. Report Inappropriate Content: Encourage your child to report any inappropriate content or interactions to you, and subsequently to the platform administrators.
While Instagram Threads offers a private space for close friends to connect, parents must be vigilant about its potential risks, especially when used by kids. By maintaining open communication, setting appropriate privacy settings, and educating children about responsible social media usage, parents can help ensure their children's online safety while using Instagram Threads and other social media platforms. Balancing digital engagement with responsible usage is crucial in providing children with a safe and positive online experience.
It’s also recommended to utilize a parental control app such as FamilyKeeper, that can identify offensive keywords on your child’s device, block and monitor inappropriate apps, and alert parents if unknown contacts approach your child.
For more information, visit https://familykeeper.reasonlabs.com. You are also welcome to check out the Digital World Parenting group on Facebook, where parents can share thoughts, tips, and advice on parenting in the digital world, including issues such as dangerous apps for kids and screen time addiction.