The photo sharing app Instagram is used by 56% of 12 to 15-year-old’s and 43% of eight to 11-year-old’s, yet none of them fully understand what the app’s terms and conditions commit them to.
A recent study tested the ability of teenagers to understand Instagram’s terms and conditions and revealed that none of them could grasp all the implications of using the site.
The panel conducting the study then condense and simplified the app’s terms and conditions, making them more accessible and easier to read. The same group of children and teens were then able to understand them easily.
And what did they have to say about the terms and conditions once they understood them?
- After reading the re-written terms and conditions, a 13-year-old boy said he planned on deleting Instagram because he thought it was “weird”.
- Another teen said he now realised how much of his personal data he’d been giving away.
In response to the study, Instagram’s head of policy, Michelle Napchan said: “We have always prioritised giving people easy to understand, clear information about our safety and privacy policies.” She also said that Instagram does go beyond the list of terms and conditions – the app offers privacy and safety help and has also produced a guide for parents to help them talk about Internet safety with their teenagers.
Social media sites such as Instagram are also expected to have robust monitoring and reporting practices to address inappropriate content.
But we can’t leave it to social media companies to do the job of a trusted adult. The best way to ensure social media safety is to educate our children about what happens why they share content online – who can see it, who can use it, where it goes, and get them to start thinking carefully before posting anything online.