Instagram or Instasex – What are the dangers?

In June I wrote a post about Instagram. I asked parents to take an active role and check if their children were on it. Check what photos they were posting, if they were geotagged, who was following them and what sort of photos they were viewing. I don’t mean to nag or to scare you but there is no no doubt that paedophiles, groomers and stalkers are on it and it is up to you to make sure your children know how to use it safely.

When I wrote not many of our teens were using it. A show of hands indicated about 10%. A few months later and it is closer to 90%. Worldwide, users have gone from 10 million to 80 million in 18 months and 5 million photos are posted every day.  Facebook recently bought it for 1 billion dollars! It is now the most popular social media tool next to Facebook with our teens.  But while on the one hand it is “a free, fun, and simple way to make and share gorgeous photos” as claimed in the App store, some are sharing the sorts of photos you do not want your teen to see and with a staff of only 15, it relies on users to flag inappropriate content.

Put simply Instagram is an App on which you create a profile, and post your photos for others to comment. Other Instagrammars can follow you or you can follow them and look and comment on their photos.

As reported on, www.huffingtonpost.com ‘Beyond the usual top lists of popular photos, such as #cute kittens and #gorgeous sunsets, there are tens of thousands of sexually suggestive or explicit images, tagged with terms such as “instaporn” or “instasex”. As a matter of fact, in the latter category, there are more than 201, 000 photos available. As well as this, Instagram has become an arena for sex chat partners to find each other. Via photos, comments and hashtags, many Instagram users are inviting others to join them for “KikSex” on the messaging app Kik, where you can chat in private and exchange any kind photos you like.’

Shortly I will write about this new app called Kik – keep a lookout in the next few weeks.

www.hightechdad.come has provided some online safety tips that parents should think about:

  1. Privacy on Instagram – while Instagram has some privacy settings, there aren’t that many. You can block users and you can make your pictures/account private. They don’t seem to enforce a 13 and over age group when signing up. So, be sure that you set your child’s profile to “private” meaning that only people who are allowed can see photos that are posted.
  2. Only allow followers that you know – this is true with any social media service. I have made a rule with my children that they can only allow people that they know to follow them on Instagram. It’s a bit more difficult if the profile is public.
  3. Do NOT allow Kik – It is private, it is un-regulated, it does not have privacy controls or parental controls. From what I can tell on it, having played with it on my child’s iPhone (prior to me deleting it), is that it merely accesses your contacts and allows you to know who of your contacts are using it as well. You can block users but there is no auditing of accounts nor linking to other social network profiles (which might actually be a better way to ensure the authenticity of a user).
  4. Censor the photos – I recommend not letting your child post pictures of themselves. Try to restricts posts to pets or objects or non-identifiable items. When photos of children are posted, you are potentially exposing them to strangers peeping into their lives.
  5. Turn off Location/Geo-tagging of photos – it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most smartphones now tag each photo with geo-location data. While cool to see where photos are taken, many times the uploaded photos still contain that geo-specific information. Turn that feature off!

Remember, the best thing is to have an open relationship with your children when it comes to social networking. Don’t impose too many restrictions but also don’t completely let them do whatever they want. Have on-going discussions. Explain why you are doing what you do. Show them how scary it can be. While your kids may complain, deep down inside, they know that you are doing it out of love.

About Renata Rowe

Deputy Head of Campus/Head of Secondary, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Plenty Campus This blog is the School's way of helping our parents and teachers understand and experience the cyber world that their children live in. We post stories about the latest cyber safety issues, and the latest social mediums that their children and teens might be using. We believe that teaching children and teens to be good Digital Citizen from a young age will protect them and their reputations. Our parents have been delighted and have subscribed so that they can receive our updates - we post about once or twice a week. So subscribe - its easy to do, just enter your email address in the box in the top righthand corner of the home page and posts will automatically be delivered to you.
This entry was posted in Chatrooms, Cyber Safety, cybersafety, Dangers, Instant Messaging / MSN, Social Media, Social Networking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Instagram or Instasex – What are the dangers?

  1. Pingback: Instagram or Instasex – What are the dangers? « St Mary's Cathedral College

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