I am not one of those over protective parents who think everyone is out to get my children nor do I think Instagram is bad. I do however believe there are unkind people in the world who will use for bad things created for good. It is my job as a parent to protect my kids and in order to do that, I need to be educated about things my kids are a part of. I believed I was very responsible with how my husband I have regulated their use of social media. My kids have to ask before they can have any social media site, we have to have all passwords, they know we can check any of them at any time and if they have used it inappropriately or changed the password without telling us, they lose the site, period. We also have to be one of their friends on the site and we always set parental controls. At 10 pm, the internet shuts off and they can’t use it without us putting in a password. Responsible right? It doesn’t matter how responsible you are with social media if you are not well informed with how it is being used. Last month, my sense of, “safe social media” came crumbling down when the computer teacher at the school I am teaching at dropped a bomb shell. Girls are being stalked by predators on Instagram and if an image is photo mapped they can know in less than 30 seconds exactly where a girl lives! Confident my daughter was using it safely, I had our computer teacher “stalk” my daughter using steps teenagers go through daily to post a picture on Instagram. My daughter had over 73 pictures photo mapped. Moments later, she was honing in on my street address and house. I was sick to my stomach. How did this happen? Let me walk you through a scenario: Your daughter takes a selfie in her room of herself in her new cute shorts. She then adds a bunch of #hashtags. #youknowthesethings. One of the hash tags she uses is #shortshorts. Before she hits done, she clicks photo map. Harmless right? Now let’s bring in our predator. He uses the search tags on Instagram looking for images of interest to him; bikini, bikini babes, sexy, sexy legs and short shorts. Everyone who has used any of those hashtags with one of their images, the predator will see that image. Someone doesn’t have to be following you to see your image if you put a hashtag with it. Ok, that’s scary enough. But it gets worse! Remember, your daughter used a photo map with her picture in her short shorts. The predator goes to the photo map attached to the picture and magnifies it until they end up where the picture was taken, right at her front door. Now the predator knows exactly where to find his next possible prey. I am not saying you should ban your child from Instagram because of some possible predator, but knowledge is power and there are some things you can do to protect your child if they use Instagram. First, have them set their profile to private. Warning! Teens may not like this. Popularity still reigns supreme. If they have a private profile, they can only get likes from their followers, decreasing the amount of possible likes. To make a profile private:
- Log into your Instagram account
- Go to your profile by touching the button in the far right hand corner. The icon is a rectangle with three lines
- Tap Edit your profile
- Find “Photos are Private”
- Turn photo privacy to On
- Press Done button at the top in the far right corner
Once your child’s Instagram profile is private, it is important to note if they photo map an image, the public won’t be able to see it, but their followers still will.