Instagram Offers More Tools To Fight Cyberbullies

For the third time this year, Instagram is offering new tools to users that both allow users more ways to manage their accounts if they’re being cyberbullied, and promote more positive interaction on the app.

Instagram logoWe have to give Instagram credit here; users have been asking for changes and more protection – users from high profile celebrities to random users who are being targeted by trolls and cyberbullies. Further, users typically don’t know how they want to be protected or what will work, so Instagram continues to iterate what they offer.

Today’s changes:

Comment Control – Users can now go to the advanced settings tab in the app and turn off others’ ability to comment on posts. Comments are where most of the rudeness and cyberbullying occur.

Like Comments – Before today, users could tap the heart button for posts, but not for comments. Now, if you see a comment that makes you smile, you can share the love.

Unfollow Users From Private Accounts – If your account is private (most teen accounts are – way to go kids!), and you’ve accepted a follow request, until now the only way to unfollow that account was to block them, in which case that user is notified. Now you can unfollow the user, which removes them from your feed without notifying them.

Below is some smart commentary from Bloomberg on the changes.

Nice job Instagram. Your move, Twitter.

 

If your teen or tween is active online and you are having trouble keeping up, we can help. We respect your kids’ privacy and give you the tools you need to be a better digital parent. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Instagram Resources for Bullying and Self-Injury Victims

Instagram logoInstagram is a community of sorts, so it makes sense that you would be able to report people in the community who are harming you, or who appear to be at risk of harming themselves.

We’ll be the first to admit that Instagram has done a good job creating such resources for users, and they are getting better. This week they announced that they are extending their helpline resources to a number of additional countries in Asia including Japan, Korea and Singapore.

The way the self-harm resources work is that an algorithm is running in the background that attempts to identify and reach out to users who appear to be at risk, and then offer to connect that user to a third party organization that can offer support.

ig-cutting-1

Let’s take a look at an example. This morning, we opened the search window and typed “cutting”, a hashtag frequently (too frequently) used by people who are engaged in self-harm. Workout fanatics also use that hashtag, which is probably why Instagram hasn’t killed it off entirely. When we proceeded to the search results, the message at right is displayed. If you click “Get Support” you are prompted with the options of messaging a friend, contacting a helpline or clicking thorough to a list of tips and support resources.

.

.

.

ig-cutting-2

If we instead opt to see the search results, we might be unlucky enough to see the image at right. This user claims to be in recovery, but does not appear to be doing very well. If you are so inclined, you can report that user to Instagram and hope that they’ll facilitate some sort of help.

.

.

.

.

.

ig333

To that end, if you want to report anybody else’s account to Instagram, either because the account or a post is in any way inappropriate (self-harm, illegal activity, pornography…) or because you are being cyberbullied, click the three dots (…) at top right and the menu at right appears. The top two choices on the following screen allow you to report a user who appears to be a risk of self-injury, or to report an incident or harassment or bullying.

.

.

.

ig444
Finally, there is help for users who are the victim of abusive comments posted under their posts. You can report those as well, but it’s a little trickier. If you see an abusive comment, tap the comment bubble below the pic and swipe left on the offending comment. You can then delete the comment (a great option) or tap the “!” (pictured at right) and report the comment.

Note: In our experience Instagram is not all that responsive to user inquiries so we aren’t sure how well these options work. In their defense, we have not heard reports of users complaining to Instagram about abuse and not getting resolution, as is often the case with Twitter.

 

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Ranking Teen Social Media Preference

Brokerage firm Piper Jaffray does a semiannual survey of teen preferences – from shopping to TV watching. We’ve written about it before, and the section on social media usage is always something that we focus on. As a reminder, here are the rankings of the surveyed teens’ “most important” social network from 12 months ago.

Piper teen survey social media

As you can see, Instagram was the clear #1 last year, Twitter preference was moving down, Facebook was stable in the teens and Snapchat was beginning to make inroads.

Fast-forwarding twelve months, the new results are in. This time around the survey polled 10,000 teens about a number of topics, and when it comes to social media the momentum of Snapchat is undeniable. Below is the percentage of teens’ who ranked each network their top social site or app for fall 2016:

snapchat-logo

  • Snapchat – 35%
  • Instagram – 24%
  • Twitter – 13%
  • Facebook – 13%
  • Pinterest – 1%
  • Google+ – 1%

The survey also asked the teens which network they use at least once a month.

  • Snapchat – 80%
  • Instagram – 79%
  • Twitter – 56%
  • Facebook – 52%
  • Pinterest – 25%
  • Google+ – 22%

It’s pretty clear that Snapchat and Instagram are dominating teen time and attention right now. Pictures and video are hot, both in the context of messaging and making permanent posts.

There are more interesting tidbits in the survey. When asked where/how teens consume video/TV, a big time evolution is happening. This shift may be clear to you if you’ve got a teen living in your house. As of this survey, YouTube passed conventional TV for the first time in terms of preferred viewing medium, and Netflix continues to be the leader.

  • Netflix – 37%
  • YouTube – 26%
  • Cable TV – 25%
  • Hulu – 3%
  • Other streaming – 6%

In terms of mobile devices, iPhone continues to dominate and looks to get stronger. 74% of the teens surveyed own an iPhone, up from 69% in April of this year, and 79% said that their next phone will probably be an iPhone. We’re not sure whether the bulk of the responses came in before or after high end Samsung phones started catching fire, but we suspect that it was before.

When it comes to teen social media preference, a couple of things are clear:

  • Pictures and video are where it’s at currently
  • Permanent vs. ephemeral is an important distinction and perhaps more important than public vs. private

With Instagram for example, your account can be public or private, but even if it is private it is public to your friends who can all see it – and make no mistake, what your friends think of your pictures is very important. Instagram is the home for your permanent images, and you may also use it for messaging. If you don’t want that image living on into next week or next year, you’ll probably use Snapchat.

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Instagram’s New “Save Draft” Function Will Be a Hit With Teens

We wrote earlier this year about an Instagram phenomenon that we think is very interesting. The post, titled “What’s up with teens and semi-private Instagram accounts?”, laid out what we see as the typical way that teens (especially teen girls) manage and curate their Instagram presence.

For reference, here is a screen grab of the images we posted with that article:

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-7-55-38-am

Notice anything similar about those 3 accounts? Again, from that post in February:

  • The accounts are all set to private
  • The accounts all follow a large number of accounts
  • The accounts all have a large number of followers
  • The accounts have posted precious few photos to their network

Bullet four is about to go to a whole new level. This week, Instagram introduced a “save draft” function.

From what we’ve seen, heard and read in research, until now the 20 or so photos that teen girls keep in their Instagram feed are there based on a number of factors including how many likes to posts gets in the few minutes immediately after being posted. Another obvious factor determining the whether the picture stays or goes is how good/pretty/amazing it is in the opinion of the poster.

With drafts, we expect to see (not “see” per se, but you get it) girls agonizing over the right filter/caption/effect and whether the photo is worthy of a shot at permanence before ultimately posting the pic, or discarding it before it ever gets posted.

That’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is. Lots of frivolous photos get posted to Snapchat, then disappear (kind of, maybe). Other photos may get posted to the teen’s other Instagram account. A lot of teens treat their Instagram feed more like a museum that a social network. It looks like that will continue.

 

 

If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

NJ Schools in Turmoil Over Racially Tinged Social Media Posts

Maplewood NJ
Three separate incidents in which students in a North Jersey district posted racially insensitive material to Instagram have school officials and parents in an uproar. Oddly, there is less information at this time about what the views of students are. There’s also no word on what the possible punishment will be, but you can bet there will be some.

In the incident drawing the most fire, two students reportedly were trying some new facial cream that made their skin look darker. Pictures were posted to Instagram, and other students assumed that the girls were doing a blackface parody. The girls claim they were just goofing around with makeup, and didn’t even know the negative stigma around blackface.

According to Superintendent John Ramos:

“We are using our code of conduct and restorative practices strategies, as well as engaging community resources, to help students recognize and address the effect that their behavior has had on our school community. … Our job as educators is to respond to students’ bad choices with appropriate consequences and guidance, and to work to resolve what happened in such a way that our community remains whole.”

The district is scrambling to make parents feel better about the situation. We don’t usually recommend looking at the comments section of online news but this article at NJ.com covering the uproar shows how divided people are.

A video from CBS News interviews a parent of one of the girls. The video embed isn’t working but you can watch it here.

As you can see, the mother is quite distraught, and is looking to protect her daughter from the backlash, claiming that she meant to do no harm.

Unfortunately, this is a very difficult genie to put back in the bottle. The message is pretty clear, though. If you are going to post anything online that might offend someone, don’t. It is impossible to know how others will react.

 

 

 

If you want to make sure your teen is not at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

 

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Snapchat and Instagram Dominate Social User Growth

The Harvard University Institute of Politics released a study recently titled Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service. The study polled 2,011 18 – 29 year olds in the fourth quarter of last year asking questions about a number of topics. The one that caught out eye was the section on social media use.

Not surprisingly, Facebook is the most used social media platform, being used by 81% of respondents, a 1% increase over the past two years.

The fastest growing social media platforms were Snapchat, which grew 8% over the past two years, and Instagram, which grew by 7%.

Harvard social media

Despite their rapid growth Instagram and Snapchat are nowhere near Facebook level of ubiquity. Instagram is used by only 46% of respondents, and Snapchat by only 36%.

Will either ever get to 80%+ penetration? It is possible, despite the fact that there are many options out there. Taking Stock with Teens, a survey by Piper Jaffray released this month polled over 6,500 teens about their social media use. The Piper survey found that 75% of U.S. teens use Snapchat and 74% use Instagram, while only 59% use Facebook. Snapchat and Instagram, in that order, were most highly ranked when asked what is your “most important social network?”

Piper social media survey
The times are changing.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?: The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). You can cancel at any time. Sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

Piper social media survey

Instagram Now Supports “Finsta” Accounts

Here comes an unintended consequence, or maybe it isn’t unintended. Starting this week, you can now switch between multiple accounts on Instagram, on one device.

insta-logo-transparentIf you work in marketing, this is a very good thing. You can use your personal account on your phone, as well as the accounts of the brands you represent, without having to constantly log out then log back in again with a different account.

For parents of teen Instagram users, this change isn’t so positive. Let us explain.

The rise of #finsta

We wrote last week about how a lot of teen, especially early teen, Instagram users have a very carefully curated feed – hundreds of followers and only a couple dozen posts is not atypical. From an excellent post by a 17-year old at Medium titled “Finstagram: The Instagram Revolution”:

“When I post a photo on Instagram I know that just about every person I am connected to in the real life will see my photo, decide whether or not to like it, and then judge me subconsciously. Because of this, Instagram is seen as a huge stressor for many teenagers.”

Social media-induced stress is not a good thing for teens, yet Instagram is the most important social network for many. Hence the rise of Finsta accounts (a contraction of “fake” and “Instagram”). When you want to let your hair down – perhaps the photo isn’t your cutest self, maybe the photo depicts you doing something that you don’t want family seeing or maybe your caption includes a crude joke – you can post those photos and videos to your Finsta account.

 

Instagram-finsta

The problem has been the friction of doing so. Logging out of one Instagram account and logging into another is often not worth the effort to post a frivolous pic, or so we’ve heard.

what-is-finsta It makes sense that Instagram doesn’t have a problem with Finsta accounts. More users is a good thing. More time spent on the app is a good thing. And Instagram isn’t all too concerned about parents, after all.

Finsta accounts aren’t a new problem, but making them easier to use may magnify the problem. We already argue that teens are shielding some of their online activity from their parents. Having an Instagram account (that your parents might follow) with precious few photos is one way of painting a rosy picture of your online activity. If Instagram supporting multiple accounts mean that more teens will have a Finsta account, or those that already do will use it more, it ups the ante for parents who want to stay on top of things.

 

 

 

 

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. Sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

What’s Up With Teens and Semi-Private Instagram Accounts?

I reached out to the parent (a client of ours) of a 15-year old girl a few months back and told him insta-logo-transparentthat he might want to have a chat with his daughter about her Instagram account. I told him that even though her account was set to private, her follower count was over 700 people and growing. My logic was that since no teen has 700 real friends, her account was hardly “private”.

The parent informed me that he and his wife were both following their daughter on Instagram and he wasn’t concerned with what she was doing. The conversation ended there.

Consider the three Instagram account below:

IG11

IG12
IG13

We selected these accounts semi-randomly by scanning the Ask.fm friends of a teen we know. The owners of these accounts have a few things in common. They’re all upper middle school girls, aged 13 or 14, from the same area (Northeast U.S.). They are all active on social media. They all posted their Instagram handle in their Ask.fm public profile. They appear to be active socially – these aren’t nerd girls.

The Instagram accounts themselves have a few things in common as well:

  • The accounts are all set to private
  • The accounts all follow a large number of accounts
  • The accounts all have a large number of followers
  • The accounts have posted precious few photos to their network

To put it not so delicately, if the parents of these girls faithfully follow them on Instagram, and think they know how they are using it, they’re wrong. Our guess is that while the girls probably take plenty of photos, they are only posting carefully curated photos to their network, and not very many of them. Here’s what they are doing on Instagram:

Friend collecting – If your son or daughter has more than 500 friends on Instagram, ask why. If she’s doing it for her ego – friend collecting – her time could probably be better spent doing something else, plus these accounts are semi-private at best. A large number of social media followers is hardly a worthy goal, and it takes time to scan and accept hundreds of friend requests.

Putting herself at risk – Any of her followers can send a direct, possibly explicit or cyberbullying message straight to her inbox. Actually, Instagram users can send direct messages to anyone, but if you get a direct message from someone you don’t “know”, it shows up as an alert and you can choose not to open it. Messages from friends don’t come with warnings.

Curating – If you’ve had an Instagram account for a couple of years, follow hundreds of people and have posted fewer than 20 photos, odds are you’re expending a lot of energy selecting only perfect pictures that cast you in the best light. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could be ego-driven.

Private messaging – These teens’ primary use case for Instagram is probably sending private image-based messages to friends or groups of friends. There’s nothing wrong with this, but the parents might have no idea who is being messaged.

In summary, there are some large gaps between how parents think some social networks and apps are used, and how teens are really using them. Conversation is the key. Here is a good question to ask: “I see that you’ve only posted 14 images to Instagram. What do you actually use it for?”

Knowledge is power.

 

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. Sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

Instagram’s Help Center No Help for Parents

If you click on the search box at the top of this page and search for “Instagram”, you can see that we’ve written about the photo-sharing app and network plenty of times. Unfortunately, a lot of our Instagram posts involve parents looking for help getting the accounts of their underage kids deleted.

instagram-rec-5It should be pretty simple. The age limit for Instagram is 13. A 12-year old can’t enter into a contract with Instagram, so if the child starts a rogue account, the account should belong to the parents. At the very least, the parents should be able to (a) easily contact Instagram, and (b) have them promptly delete the account.

It doesn’t work that way.

There is no phone number or email address listed, which does a pretty good job of telling you who the customer is. It’s not you. Users with a problem are directed to submit a form from Instagram’s Help Center. If you go to the page “How do I report a child under the age of 13 on Instagram?” you see the following:

instagram-help-center

  • You can get instructions for showing your child how to delete the account
  • You can report the account to Instagram (whether it’s your child, another child or someone impersonating your child)

That’s it. You can’t ask Instagram nicely to delete the account. You can’t say, “THIS IS MY CHILD.” If you do report the account, Instagram won’t do anything unless proof already exists in the account that the user is under 13. If there’s no proof then you’re out of luck.

We got an email today from a parent that is similar to dozens of other emails that we’ve gotten. Her under-13 daughter opened an Instagram account using a bogus email address. You can do this on Instagram because they don’t require verification of a new user’s email address. Now that the parent has found out about the account, the child claims to have forgotten the email address. Since there is no valid email address attached to the account, the parent can’t reset the password.

Is there another way to contact Instagram? Not that we know of. The Twitter account @InstagramSupport hasn’t tweeted since 2012.

This parent is out of luck, and we had to tell her that. At some point, the government needs to take action and force Instagram to respect the rights of parents.

 

 

NEW: For a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. Sign up today!

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.

 

School Overturned on Instagram Suspension

There’s an interesting story out of a New jersey high school this week that has an important message for parents embedded in it, and overall the result is a surprise to many.

red-solo-cupLast year, a star high school athlete from Allentown NJ posted two photos to Instagram in which she was wearing an Allentown high school sweatshirt, off the school property and not during school hours, and she and another student appeared to be drinking alcohol. There is no indication how the authorities were alerted to the pictures, but once they were, they investigated and suspended the student from extracurricular activities for 30 days.

The penalty was appealed to the New Jersey Department of Education who last week overturned the decision (too late; it already happened) stating that “discipline can only be levied for incidents away from school grounds when it is necessary for a student’s safety, security and well-being and the conduct interferes with the orderly operation of the school.”

In summary, if a student is doing something away from school that the administrators don’t like, they are powerless to levy punishment unless the act is disrupting the school in some way.

We don’t condone what the student did, even if she wasn’t drinking alcohol which she never confessed to. We do caution teens and parents that minors should never post anything depicting improper behavior, or anything that might look like as much. She was guilty of at least one of those in this case.

Where does this leave parents? In charge – exactly where they should be. Schools aren’t going to stop underage drinking; nor are they going to keep kids from posting it on social media. That’s all on the parents.

Taking it one step further, in the words of columnist L.A. Parker writing in the Trentonian:

“Even worse, punishment offered no follow up, no counseling, or any other support for a teen shot with a beverage. The panel allowed [the student] an appeal but that served only as a matter of protocol.”

Parents, online or off, are in charge of the counseling and support of their kids, especially when they’re not in school. It’s up to you to talk to your kids about appropriate behavior.

The more things change…

 

 

 

Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

Work at a high school or college? We have custom solutions for monitoring dangerous or inappropriate activity. Learn more.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe online. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter below.