Instagram rolled out a parents guide on digital safety adhering to the Safer Internet Day theme “Together for a better internet”.

Internet safety has always been a matter of concern, especially for parents as online access often comes with risks for kids. In this digital world of innumerable social media platforms and easy availability, parents need to be extra careful about their usage by their children. On this Safer Internet Day, Instagram rolled out a parent’s guide of 63 pages that details out the privacy settings available on the app. The guide includes the safety features present on the app that can be used to prevent social media nuisance.

The guide is launched ahead of the Safer Internet Day which happens to be on February 9. The theme for the year 2021 is “Together for a better internet’ aiming for youth’s safety on digital platforms. Instagram has partnered with a youth media and community engagement company Yuva, last year. Instagram along with Yuva launched a #365DaysOfKindness programme including workshops and conversations with mental health care influencers on ways to ensure the safety of the internet for everyone. This guide will be available across many countries that would provide parents a better understanding of the changing digital scenario.

Need of internet security 

The internet engagement of children is constantly increasing especially with the arrival of the pandemic that has brought schools to screens. Kids nowadays are actively using social media platforms, at times even without parental supervision. With such internet friendliness, children are at constant risks of exploitation and can unknowingly come across various content such as, pornography, violence, and abuses, that make them uncomfortable during internet surfing.  

It is also possible that young children may come in contact with strangers posing as friends, or people fishing for their personal information which can lead to dangerous situations in the future. A UNICEF report, ‘Child Online Protection in India’, released last year spoke about how cyber offences against children are spreading and diversifying as new methods are used to harass, abuse, and exploit them. 

Safety features and services listed in ‘Parents Guide’

  1. DM reachability controls: This feature gives business accounts and creators the control to choose who could add them to groups on Instagram Direct or message them. 
  1. Bulk comment management: This feature helps to lessen internet negativity. It provides people with the option to delete bulk comments and block or restrict multiple accounts for negative comments.
  1. Interaction and time management: The Guide also describes the tools one can use to control and manage interactions with others such as blocking comments, as well as time management.
  1. Account Security: The guide also elaborates on security measures that are important in the age of phishing and online scams.
  1. Important Contact Details: The guide also contains important contact details for people with special needs, the LGBTQIA+ community, those experiencing emotional distress and have contemplated suicide.
  1. Conversation Starters: The guide also contains conversation starters for parents (such as “I saw your latest story and thought it was../What do you like posting about?”) who want to discuss important issues with their children.
  1. Filter out comments: Instagram says that the app automatically filters out offensive words, phrases, and bullying comments. One can also create a personalised list of words or emojis one doesn’t want to have appeared in the comments section while posting something by going to “Filters” in the Comment Controls section.
  1. Comment and caption warnings: Instagram automatically identifies when a comment or a caption in a post is found to be hurtful and offensive, and it notifies the person making the comment or posting the caption before it is posted. This gives them a chance to pause and undo their comment or caption, and the app also uses the opportunity to show them what is and isn’t allowed on Instagram. 

“As the internet permeates into our lives, especially the lives of young people, parents want to be adequately equipped with the evolving digital landscape. They want to understand how a platform works and feel comfortable with their children leveraging its opportunities for creative expression while knowing the safety tools available to them that enable that expression in a supportive environment. This is what we’re aiming to provide with the 2021 version of the Parents Guide,” said Tara Bedi, Public Policy and Community Outreach Manager, Instagram in India.