Instagram has just reached a new milestone: 1 billion users. To celebrate, they have announced the upcoming launch of a new service; Instagram TV (IGTV).
Instagram is extremely popular among kids. The service is available for users aged 13 and up, meaning Instagram is a common app to find on a teen’s phone. With such a huge base of young users, it’s important to take a look at their new video service and identify any possible concerns early on.
What do we know so far?
As well as a separate, standalone application, IGTV will be available directly from the original Instagram app. If you or the children in your care have Instagram, you may have already noticed the new ‘TV’ logo in the top right corner of the application.
Clicking this launches the new TV service. And it is designed to be very similar to a TV service, indeed. Unlike YouTube, where you scroll through your subscriptions and find something to watch, IGTV immediately plays a video it thinks you’d like to see. In theory, this is supposed to feel more like you’re ‘switching on the television’ than watching a video on the internet.
You can swipe to ‘discover more’ content similar to what you are already watching, and switch between the following tabs:
- For You. A selection of new content based on what Instagram has deemed to be your interests based on who you follow and what you like.
- Following. Videos from the people you follow,
- Popular. Trending, popular videos from across the community.
- Continue Watching. Resume watching videos you have started but not finished.
You can also like and comment, and share videos with your friends in the direct chat function.
In my first look, the app seemed reasonably innocuous. My first impression is that it’s unlikely content posted to Instagram TV would be particularly worrying to parents or caretakers, (famous last words).
Who can upload?
Also like television (or YouTube), IGTV videos appear on ‘channels’. These channels belong to the creators, so you can easily find and follow the people you want to watch.
One concern does arise when you consider that anyone can upload videos to the application – and these will appear publicly on the Instagram network by default. That means, as parents or caretakers, we need to be very careful, and explain to the children in our care that they should not share any revealing or personally identifying content on the application. Even something as seemingly harmless as footage of your child in their school uniform can help predators track them down.
If the children in your care have an Instagram account, they now have a video audience of 1 billion people. A group of people this size is guaranteed to contain some extremely shady characters. And instagram is yet to release any specifics on its plans to moderate them.
We recommend reading our free handbook, Five Principles to Stay Safe Online, and discussing these rules in it with the children in your care.
What’s our verdict?
Like any network that connects users with strangers, there are a great many real threats to Instagram users. However, taking responsibility for what you post, keeping your account private, and following some of the other instructions we laid out here can really help to lessen the dangers.
In our opinion, the release of IGTV doesn’t pose that much more of a threat to its younger users than the photo based portion of Instagram did in the first place. Sure, there is a heightened potential for them to see offensive or extreme content, but this is no more of a concern on any other platform that shares video – Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and more.
If you are a parent of a child on Instagram, and you are concerned about what they might see, our advice is to sit down with your child, and go through the people they are following with them. Come to an agreement about what is and what is not okay to watch on the platform. This is, however, not a foolproof plan, as the ‘For You’ section of IGTV will pull random videos into your feed regardless of who you follow. Although it will go a long way in helping to keep their accounts age appropriate.
As always, communication is key.