Instagram Gets More Intimate - How Will Changes to the App Impact Your Kids?

Here at INFO for Families, we occasionally want to be true to our name and offer some practical INFO that can help imperfect and normal families to be successful. I can think of no arena that we need more fresh help with than our kids’ tech habits and practices. The social medial world changes so fast that it often helps to have some coaching from someone smarter than we are.

I want to introduce you to Chris Trent, the Middle School Pastor at Johnson Ferry (where I work with families). I don’t know anyone who is more well-versed or who has a better perspective on the impact of technology on our kids. Hopefully, his guest post today will not be his last. You can follow him on twitter @christrent.

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Well, here we go again. 

Just when we think an app is safe and fun for our kids, the app maker goes and changes it to what is trending within the popular culture.

For many parents, Instagram has been a fairly safe and easy-to-monitor alternative to some of the other social media options like Snapchat, Kik, Facebook, etc. However, as app companies will often do, the features have significantly changed with one App Store update.

Popular technology review site CNET is describing the update as “Instagram Get’s Intimate with Private Photos” and compares the app update to the popular Snapchat app.  Snapchat is well known for its ability for a user to send a picture that automatically deletes itself after 10 seconds and is often acknowledged for its “Sexting” abilities.

So if your teenager is using Instagram, what should you do?

First, don’t over react! It’s important for you to maintain your ability to have good conversations about social media with your teenagers while helping them learn how to make wise decisions.

Second, take time to review Instagram’s new features with your teenager.  Try out the private messaging features.  Consider how you are now able to send private messages that can then be deleted with no record of them ever being sent.  Ask your kids what they think of the changes and what the possible dangers might be.

Finally, prayerfully make a decision based on your teen’s ability to handle this kind of app. For some, this is going to be a tough call because Instagram has changed into an app that, if it were new, some parents would not allow their kids to use it.

We're praying for you as you navigate these difficult technology challenges. Nobody said it was going to be easy!

-Chris

 *Check back in early 2014 for information on our new book, The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. You can click on the link to read a brief excerpt. The book has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture.

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