Will making accounts private by default for users under 16 help curb issues for Instagram?
Instagram has had its fair share of problems when it comes to younger users on it’s platform. Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) has just announced that its making accounts private by default for Under 16s.
According to the Instagram official blog, it’s about ‘Giving Young People a Safer, More Private Experience’ meaning that from now on ‘everyone who is under 16 years old (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into a private account when they join Instagram’.
Instagram have also reported that the changes will :
Make it harder for potentially suspicious accounts to find young people.
Limit the options advertisers have to reach young people with ads.
Of course, Instagram is not the first social network platform to implement such a move. Tik Tok already sets its U16 accounts to private by default.
Note: Tik Tok also prevents videos created by Under 16’s from being downloaded.
But can’t a user just lie about their age?
Yup. This would be the simple way round this. The implementation of age verification checks has been a real challenge for social media platforms. In the UK for example the age in which users can sign up for social media platforms is set at 13. In reality we know that many young people do in fact sign up for platforms such as Instagram before they are 13 by simply entering an incorrect date of birth. Parents and children feel under increasing pressure to let children on social media channels way before 13.
It’s also worth noting parents that some children may have burner (secret) accounts. A social media account which parents know about and one which they keep private with friends and which parents have no idea about.
What can Parents do to help keep their children safer when using social media apps and platforms?
As a parent it’s really important to keep yourself up to date with the latest popular channels and what your child or teenager is doing online. We ask them where they’re going when they head out the door – it’s just the same. Today we’ve more connected devices in our homes than ever before – giving our children more unfettered access to the internet and social media. This access brings risk, so it’s just about managing that risk.
Setting up parental controls and filters is one way to reduce access to content which may not be suitable and to block or restrict access to certain apps or social media platforms. Becoming a more informed digital parent will help keep your child or teenager safer and keep you on top of risks and concerns.
The landscape is changing all the time. We know how difficult and challenging this can be for parents and carers. We know children are peer pressured to join social media early, parents are guilted into allowing it and then more parents and more children join early. Just to be clear, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are not just ways to connect with friends. Young people use them prolifically for videoing, commenting, arranging meet ups, finding out stuff they’d feel embarrassed to discuss offline, chatting to new people etc.
So please make sure they behave decently online, that they’re clear on entitlement ie you bought the phone – you can take it away or restrict time spent on it for poor behaviour. Behaviour you wouldn’t accept offline/in the street. Also that they learn a little balance from us, when to turn the phone off and listen and when they need a break and some fresh air. Easier said than done but as a parent of two boys, I’m going through this with you.
All our resources and videos are now available via our handy smartphone app CoBabble (most in short video format). As soon as we release a new video or digital wellbeing resource you’ll get a push notification delivered instantly to your phone. Ask your child’s school for details. For secondary schools this costs just £1 per family per year.
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