By Binoy Parakat
Making Instagram safe for users under 16 years old
Every single person is online and utilizing platforms like Instagram where they can tell the world and see the world what is happening in their personal lives. However, Instagram is not only used for personal reasons, but also to become influencers who can raise awareness and convey their message to the thousands of people out there.
However, there is a reason to worry. Children aged 16 and below are not safe on Instagram, and thus to look into their safety Instagram is following some rules and guidelines. These will help children to use Instagram without receiving or being involved in abrupt, or maybe scandalous messages from adults.
March 2021 – Instagram went ahead and launched a few updates for users under 16 such as guides, tools that were age-appropriate, excellent features that would restrict older users from reaching out to the younger ones, and many more resources that would look into the online safety on kids on Instagram.
Actions taken to make Instagram safe for Teenagers
You have to be 13 for an Instagram Account
To join Instagram, one has to be at least 13 years of age. Before joining the platform, it asks new users to provide their age details before signing into an account. However, there are times when people do lie about their age and this is where Instagram is going to take action. However, this is a complex situation and to address this very challenge, Instagram is developing new AI and machine learning technology that will help keep teenagers safe.
Restricting DM’s between teenagers and adults they don’t follow
An interaction between a teenager and an adult who don’t know each other can get scandalous, and thus to prevent such a thing from happening, Instagram is introducing a new feature that will prevent adults from sending messages to teens who are under 18 years of age, and who don’t follow them.
Example – if an adult is trying to message a teenager below 18 years, who doesn’t follow them, they will get a message – DM’ing them isn’t an option
Making teenagers cautious about interactions in DMs
Instagram is also going to use prompts or safety notices to encourage teenagers to be cautious while chatting with adults they are already connected to.
A safety notice in DMs with make young people aware if a certain adult has been showcasing potentially suspicious behaviour. This way the teenager can stop talking to that particular adult and be on the safer zone.
Example, if an adult is sending a large amount of friend requests to teens under 18 years of age – Instagram will use this tool and information to alert the recipients and provide them an option to end the conversation, block, report or even restrict the adult. This tool will come into practise soon.
Making it extremely difficult for adults to find teens
Instagram is going to start exploring ways to make it much more difficult for adults who have been showcasing suspicious behaviour to find and interact with teenagers on Instagram. The process may include restricting suspicious adults from seeing teenagers accounts in suggested users, preventing them from discovering teen content in reels, automatically hiding their comments on posts by teens, etc.
Encouraging Teens to make their account private
A private account is obviously safer, as it offers more protection for teenagers. This way a teenager can control who can see and interact with their content. Thus, when someone under 18 signs up for an Instagram account, they are given the option to choose between a public or a private account. At Instagram, we want to encourage teenagers to opt for the private account by making them aware on what the different settings mean and how it can be safer for them.
There are times, when a teenager is a creator and needs to have a public account. In that case, they can opt for a public account, after learning more about the options.
Also, if a teenager didn’t want to choose the private option – a notification will be later sent to them highlighting the very benefits of a private account and reminding them to check their settings on and off.
This is only the first step by Instagram. They are also coming up with additional measures that can help protect teenagers on Instagram.
Thus, at the end of the day – Everyone is online, everyone is on Instagram. However, one has to look into the safety of teenagers who are lost and surrounded by suspicious adults. Instagram wants to keep them safe, and happy.