How You can Discuss Instagram Safety with Students


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With 52% of teens using Instagram, it's safe to say that a lot of parents are having to teach their children Instagram safety. In fact, parents as well as teachers are also having the equal concerns for their students. That's how they can teach or guide their students to use this platform appropriately. However, what many teachers may not know is that having a healthy discussion with their kids about social media safety and responsible online activities is better than any monitoring app available. As parents and educators, it's important that we promote communication. However, sometimes this is easier said than done.

So, we read & learnt from 3 safety experts who shared their best tips for teachers and parents who want to discuss Instagram safety with their children.

Keep communication open and set boundaries

Chris BrantnerChris Brantner, CutCableToday.com, @CutCableToday
As a former teacher and parent of a teenager, Instagram is a topic I'm very familiar with. In grades as low as 5th, we saw incidents of Instagram posts leading to trouble. It's difficult to handle as a parent due to the prevalence of social media use. The way we handled it seems to have worked pretty well. First of all, when you first get your child a smartphone, make sure to set limits. Ensure that they understand that you'll be keeping an eye on what they're doing and reinforce responsible social media use from the beginning.

Keep communication open and set boundaries when they're ready for social media. Ensure that their Instagram accounts are private and ensure that you follow them on Instagram with your own account, so you can see what's going on. Now, you have to draw a thin line. You don't want to be overbearing and discuss every single picture they post. But keep track and discuss what's appropriate and what's not.

Like anything else, it's all about mutual involvement.

Empower students by making them aware of online threats

Communication is the foundation to all digital safety, even on Instagram.

Gurpreet Juneja, Top Daycare Centers
Communication is the foundation to all digital safety, even on Instagram. From my experience of being an educator, and a mother of an 8-year-old and a 14-year-old, building a solid relationship with kids is the first step to establishing and implement safety protocols. In today's digital world it is impossible to keep our kids away from technology, but by making them aware of the online threats, we as educators can empower them. By explaining the need, and purpose for installing a safe digital monitoring software, trust can be established making software like Net Nanny and PhoneSheriff easily acceptable.

Monitor your student's Instagram activity

Seth GilgusSeth Gilgus, Online Optimism, @SethGilgus
As wonderful as social media is, it is also equally dangerous for young eyes who may stumble upon something that is not age appropriate. Instagram, with its heavy reliance on visual content, is particularly risky for young eyes. For young children, parents should monitor what their child is looking at on Instagram. Third party monitoring software, such as Familoop, can be used to view what your child looks at, comments on, and likes on Instagram. Making your child's Instagram account private also makes sure that they can monitor who wants to follow him/her.

Instagram's latest School Stories feature

Word on the street is that Instagram is testing a new, collaborative kind of Story - specifically, a kind which would be used within schools. While it's in no way confirmed the app will ever have this feature, it could turn out to be a positive thing for students, if done properly.

The rumor is that students from a particular school will be able to see or post to the school's Story, and given the phrase is "community," I assume that means the teachers or school administrators will have access to it as well.

Reports from Instagram have thus far declined to comment, which could mean that it's not actually happening. That said, Instagram have made a few other noises with respect to school life. For example, one of its recent updates allowed users to add themselves to a group specific to their college and graduating year, and the feature is currently being tested in some schools.

Not to say there's not the potential for a feature like this to be beneficial to the community. If done correctly, it could be a fun way for students to keep up with each other, and for different parts of the school to learn about each other's activities. Imagine if, instead of checking a bulletin board or your school's Facebook schedule, you checked your school's Story and found out the volleyball team had a game and needed your support :)

We may never see such a feature materialize, but, given how many young people prefer Instagram to other social networks, it could be a good way of engaging them in extra-curricular activities - but only if handled with care and a clear understanding of the downsides.

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