Instagram = Instagrief?

Instagram-coming-to-Windows-Phone-leaked-screenshot-reveals-but-you-have-to-wait-till-MayAs we approach a new school year, many Gen Zs are thinking not about their teachers, but about their hardware – what phone, what version – and Social Media they got over the summer.  Today’s social media topic is Instagram, because we just let my 13 year old get it, and also because Instagram’s growth is outperforming Facebook. Instagram is very popular among Gen Zs and has been for years.

If you don’t know what Instagram is (not a good sign), it’s a free photo sharing platform owned by Facebook.  It’s often cited as being the mobile Facebook which is perfect for Gen Zs who do everything on their mobile.  And the right outlet for taking and sharing video instantly (watch what you say!).  Users can share photos (other people, images, or “selfies”) on a variety of other social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Foursquare.

Facebook-owned Instagram is growing faster than Facebook.  As of June 20, 2013, Instagram has 130mm active monthly users, 16 billion photos and nearly 1 billion likes per day.  And it’s REALLY popular among Gen Zs.  What age is appropriate to let your Gen Z get Instagram?  In the fine print for Instagram, they state users must be at least 13 years old.

From my perspective, Instagram is the Middle School popularity contest happening not in the hallways, but on an iPhone or Android.  Kids compete for popularity based on the number of Likes their photos get.  Kids seem to be carried away with Instagram – posting anything and everything they find.   I went on Instagram today and saw some popular photos:  some were innocent, some were inappropriate, some were discriminating and some were clearly done by a professional modeling agency.

Like all social media and texting, Gen Zs need a few lessons on social media etiquette before they partake in Instagram.  Posting one wrong photo can take an innocent child down a long dark road of temporary unpopularity, or the parents if caught behaving badly and posted by your child!  I think  (hope) Instagram is acceptable IF you monitor your child’s account (we created one too), make their account private, block any bullies or wierdos and give them a lesson on what’s okay to post and what’s not.  That was the topic of a recent car chat with my 13 year old.

For more viewpoints on Instagram,  go to http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-kids-have-instagram

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