I’ve mentioned a few ways you can keep tabs with what your child is sharing on Instagram – a wise idea to help them navigate the social media waters. And yes, Instagram is a social network. Parents should be aware of Instagram Direct, a feature that allows you to share photos and videos with a select group within the Instagram app, instead of all your followers.
The methods that you can use to view your child’s Instagram activity are NOT going to show you their Instagram Direct activity. This includes:
- Following your child on Instagram – you will only see the photos and videos they share to all their followers.
- Logging in on the computer as your child on Instagram.com – the web view of Instagram does not show you direct message activity.
- Using a parental control software tool to track Instagram activity (from what I’ve noticed, these services will only show you the main feed and not the direct messages; if you know otherwise please leave a reply!)
Here’s what the direct messages look like within the Instagram app. A history of any messages sent and received are displayed, unless they have been deleted by the sender or hidden by the receiver. When you click one of the photos/videos, you’ll see the list who received each one, any comments or likes, and even who has viewed it.
The sender can delete the message at any time, which will then delete the post and all associated comments from all the receivers’ direct message list. The sender is in control of the message after it is sent.
Pros and Cons of Instagram Direct
In some ways, Instagram Direct messages are a good thing. There are certainly instances when teens would like to share a photo or video with just a select group of friends or even just one friend. This is certainly the case when kids have accumulated a large group of followers, i.e. everyone one at school, or for those who have a public profile (not recommended!) They may be using their better judgment here by sharing with a smaller circle.
In terms of the negatives of Instagram Direct, it makes it more difficult for parents to monitor Instagram activity. I suppose the only way is to take a look at your child’s phone or device, open Instagram and click the “Direct” icon and check it out. Direct message activity is found using the icon in the upper right of the screen when you first open the app:
In a way this is nothing new. Just as with Facebook, you can “friend” your child and get some insight into their Facebook activity, but you will not see the Facebook messages sent or received. The only way to do that is with the Facebook username and credentials or spot-checking of the device.
And just as with any photo, video or text shared publicly or privately, there is always a chance that someone could take your photo and save it, or take a screenshot, even if you delete it later. It’s the same false sense of security that caused the hub-bub with Snapchat and the disappearing messages.
So again, while monitoring and parental control tools can help, discussions with your kids on appropriate sharing and use are ever important. Technology can only take us so far!
Other Instagram articles on Be Web Smart:
- Parents’ Guide to Instagram
- Instagram: Now with video
- Instagram Web Profiles introduced – How to keep your child’s information private
- Kids and Instagram
Around the web: