Joy to Devastation: Dangers That Instagram Holds
Instagram ties with WhatsApp as the third most popular social media platform. Its focus on filtered photos and quick communication makes Instagram the perfect modern diary.
This article delves into Instagram’s darker side, exposing the dangers users might encounter. It also highlights what you and your children can do to avoid the pitfalls and use Instagram more securely.
The Dangers of Instagram
Instagram is a great platform for connecting with friends and getting a glimpse into others’ lives, but it can also be an unsafe place. By being aware of the following dangers, you can create a safer and more rewarding Instagram experience for yourself and your kids.
Loose content moderation
Due to its simple UI and visual nature, Instagram is the perfect platform for all manner of (self) promotion. Problems arise when exploring your feed leads down a rabbit hole that may end in inappropriate or dangerous content.
Instagram has gotten better at restricting what ads and content teens under 18 get exposed to. Even so, it’s easy to stumble upon risqué topics, pornography promotion, or subjects that might not be appropriate for younger users.
Teens usually aren’t mentally developed enough to make informed long-term decisions. That prompts some to engage in reckless or dangerous behavior. This might result in anything from likes from friends to going viral. They may regret such content later but be powerless to remove it from the internet at large. Potential employers or partners might not view such content favorably in the future.
When sharing everything from the most mundane activities to your life’s highlights is the norm, it’s bound to attract unsavory types. Some, like trolls, may egg you on for the fun of it. Others escalate things, which can result in cyberbullying.
Predators are the most dangerous. Instagram’s format provides them with a lot of information they can use to pose as an underage person and manipulate others to share identifiable info or inappropriate content. They may even ask to meet face-to-face after gaining your trust.
Instagram is perfect for sharing the highlight of your life, and many users don’t realize how much information this exposes. A few careless posts are enough for an observant follower to figure out your address, full name, the school you go to, and other information they can use for shady purposes.
For example, everyone loves mentioning and taking pics of their pets. However, you risk losing access to your accounts if your cat’s name is also the answer to the security question.
Negative health impacts
In a recent report, Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health highlighted Instagram as the worst social media platform for one’s mental well-being. It makes sense since the picture-driven format prompts everyone to present themselves in the best possible light. Impressionable people looking at curated – and often staged – snapshots of others’ lives may feel like they’re missing out.
Teens who consume social media several hours daily have a greater predisposition for depression. Doing so before bedtime can be harmful to maintaining healthy sleep patterns, which worsens existing mental stresses. All of this happens just with normal use, not even talking about the trauma cyberbullying victims experience.
How to Have a Safe & Positive Instagram Experience
While the above dangers are real, you and your kids can use Instagram responsibly and still have a good time.
Tailoring the app is the first step. Instagram established several policies that protect underage users, like making accounts for everyone under 16 private by default. Older users should switch to private, too, so they can receive follow requests only from accounts they want to interact with.
Criminals might want to hack into your Instagram account to steal your identity or use it to spread propaganda. The easiest way to prevent this is to use a password manager app and 2FA. The password manager will create a long and complicated password it would take an eternity to hack. Two-factor authentication strengthens the measure by sending a code to your smartphone each time someone tries to log in.
If your kids are using Instagram, set some ground rules first. Tell them about the dangers of oversharing and encourage them not to communicate with strangers. Take measures to document and then block cyberbullies.
Most importantly, be the unconditional source of support for your children. They’ll be more likely to tell you when a problem pops up, and you can figure the solution out together.
Social media like Instagram plays an undeniable role in shaping its users’ minds, experiences, and opinions. Especially the younger ones. Shielding them and yourself from its darker aspects is in everyone’s best interest.