Cyberbullying and suicide are two of the most dangerous symptoms of our digital culture. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among teens and half of all teens admit to having been bullied online. One of the major ways these bullies find their foothold is through comments on social media. My advice to parents is always to keep their kids away from online comments as much as possible. Instagram’s new comment control feature will help moms and dads be more effective. Their new live video reporting feature could even save lives.
Instagram wants you to have control over who sees what you post. They’re also giving you control over what people say about your selfies and food pics. Well, not as much what they say but who is saying it. If you are concerned about random strangers contacting your kids on Instagram through their comments section you can have them set their post comments to private. There are actually four settings, Everyone, Your Followers, People You Follow, or People You Follow and Your Followers. These settings allow you to set a smaller group of folks who can comment on your kids’ posts. This can be very helpful but only if your kid agrees with your motives. These settings aren’t password protected so they can be reset at any time. The best way to ensure they’re keeping their settings as you’d want them is to check in on who’s commenting on them. If you don’t recognize them from your child’s account then you should ask about it.
Live Video Reporting
Instagram has also added a reporting feature to highlight when someone may be considering self-harm or harming others while filming a live video. If the video is reported they’ll be shown a message that encourages them to reach out for help. Instagram has trained staff available 24/7 to accept messages from people who reach out via the Instagram Live reporting feature. Their hope is to give friends a way to help friends stay safe and maybe even choose to stay alive. What a great way to be encouraged that people care about you. This feature is also available on Facebook Live.
What Parents Should Know
Some social media sites are leaning towards the most public and open atmosphere possible (here’s looking at you Snapchat) which can be dangerous for our kids. Instagram and Facebook seem to be taking notice of our desire to keep some things private or in our chosen circle of friends. Understanding and using these features is very important for parents as we work to keep our kids safe online. Be sure to keep yourself informed.
If you’re looking for even more info about how to protect your children online, you can contact me (Michael) about hosting a workshop to train you and your friends on family internet safety. Home workshops are free and are available all over the country through Skype. Email me at BecauseFamily@gmail.com to learn more.