It's hard to keep up with all the social media platforms and apps our kids want to use. Instagram is currently one of the most popular social networks for school-aged children at the moment. It's a free, photo and video sharing mobile application and social network for people aged 13 years and over. There's no age-verification process though, so younger children can create an account pretty easily, sometimes without parents even knowing. Instagram say they'll remove under-age users' accounts if they are reported.
Instagram has just published "A Parent's Guide to Instagram", and it's a great place to start if you want to know more about how it works and how it can be used safely. Similarly, Facebook also hosts a page to help parents connect with their online kids - The Smart Parents Guide to Facebook.
The simplest way to stay informed is to ask your child what apps and social media they know about and ask them to show you how they work.
It's a good, non-threatening approach because:
kids and teens find out about new apps, games and social networks long before we do
even less chatty teens tend to enjoy the chance to share their expertise
you'll narrow your focus down to only those social networks and apps your kids use
it opens up the conversation about social media tools and their social life in general
if you ask your child to show you how to "block" other users, "report" abuse, "delete" their own posts and change their privacy settings, you'll learn how it's done but also know they're able to use those options if they need to.
The good news is we don't have to be social media experts to keep our kids safe, but we do have to be good communicators and talk to them regularly about their social lives – both on and offline.