Including tips and advice for parents and teachers.

We wrote this blog to offer an insight to parents and teachers on Instagram: how it works, why it’s a favorite and what pitfalls to look out for. The more parents and teachers understand, the more they can support young people. Social media usage is often hidden from parents and that’s when problems can occur. Creating an open dialogue means you can support your children.

Instagram is one of the most widespread social networks with teens, with some teens claiming they spend hours editing photos before they post them. We did some research into why Instagram is so popular and who young people are following.

Social media can be a positive force for change. Media Smart has some key advice to help young people understand social – our aim is to gather facts, understand and educate. Tech is here to stay so teaching digital resilience and media literacy is essential. We also want to focus on the positive aspects of social media; its power to do good, raise awareness, enlighten and inspire.

It’s challenging for parents to keep up with all the new features and how their children are using Instagram. This is why we’ve highlighted the most up to date features and insights for you to be aware of:-

  • Instagram has 500 million active users and is growing every day. Instagram users “like” 4.2 billion posts per day In the last hour 1 in 5 children have used Instagram – so there’s no denying its popularity.
  • More than 40 billion photos shared, and 95 million per day!
  • The most followed Instagram account: Selena Gomez, with over 117 million followers.
  • Real Madrid footballer Cristino Ronaldo has over 95 million followers and is one of the most popular male Instagrammers after Justin Bieber temporarily deleted his account due to negative comments
  • Want to know more about who your teenager might be following on Instagram? Read The 18 Teens Dominating Instagram and 55 British Celebrities You Should Be Following on Instagram. Are you happy with the accounts your children are interacting with?
  • Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, who then introduced sponsored posts and adverting to Instagram. Does your child know that adverts will be on their Instagram feed? Can they identify a sponsored post?
  • Did you know Instagram has a separate group chat function? Many parents are unaware of this when they’re monitoring their children’s online activity.
  • Having more than one account is popular with younger users, some have a “real” and a “fake” account.
  • Also celebrities and Instagram influencers* can get paid to promote products to their followers. The more followers you have the more money you can command for endorsing products. Major social media influencers like the Kardashians have been reported to charge around £1500 per post for featuring products on their feeds. Make sure your children are aware that many Instagrammers will endorse products, and will be paid to talk about and advertise them on their Instagram feed.
  • In 2016 Instagram introduced ‘Instagram stories’ a Snapchat style feature (and Facebook is also rolling this out this now) where you can post temporary images and videos to your profile. It allows users to take photos, add effects and layers on top of their photos. Stories uploaded to a user’s profile expire after 24 hours.

We also researched why young people love Instagram. Here’s what they said

“I see it as a creative outpost for ideas, somewhere where kids can share their ideas and photos ”

“I love Instagram as there are lots of artsy photos and I love photography”

“Sometimes if I’m not sure of a photo I might snap it to someone or send it to them, before I post it on Instagram”

“I think it’s a numbers game and quite competitive, how many followers and likes can each person get”

“I can share photos and talk to my friends without my family seeing or joining the conversation”

The NSPCC also conducted a survey on all the popular social media networks. There were three main reasons why teens love Instagram.

You can share with others, you can communicate with others, and you can follow others.

Instagram is often quoted as being a very positive place by many, but also criticised for being unrealistic. However, you can decide what you see (based on who you are following and engaging with). Instagram explains its use of personalised algorithms: “Posts are selected automatically – based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like.”

So if you don’t like what you are seeing on your feed, think about why you’re on there and what you’d like to see more of.

Naomi Russo wrote an article for Quartz about this “I used to think social media made me feel bad about myself. But a recent dive into my viewing habits made me realise that the problem wasn’t just Instagram — it was also the way I was using it”.

“I began by unfollowing people who might have been contributing to my body-image problem. Why was I following so many Victoria’s Secret models, and women whose only job seemed to be working out?”

With some help from young people, parents and teachers we found some amazing Instagrammers out there. They’re not just posting selfies or advertising products!In our next blog, we’ve collated some of our favourite inspiring and educational Instagram accounts. We could all do with some positive, but real news, in our lives.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, there are some incredible people out there that we can learn from. If you have any suggestions of accounts like these, get in contact via social media and tag us on Instagram @mediasmartuk and use the hashtag #GetMediaSmart. We would love to share them in our next blog…

The minimum age to have an Instagram account is 13 years old. We’ve included links to guidelines on internet safety and social media  in our Digital Advertising and Social Media Guide for parents, which are free to download.

*Influencers — Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. Source Wikipedia.

Written by Ruth Gilbey

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