Let's face it — a majority of children these days love their technology. But even more so, they love Instagram — the app that allows them to share photos and connect to friends in ways that other apps might not. But when sharing photos or posting comments, some children — and even adults — don't know what they're agreeing to when they claim to read the app's Terms Of Service. Which is why it is so important that a lawyer rewrote Instagram privacy rules to be more kid friendly — so kids know exactly what they're agreeing to when creating an account.
From finstas or "fake Instagrams" to the strangely popular slime videos, there is no bounds to what content people can view on the app and what children can post or share. Therefore, it is important that they know exactly what they have control over — and what is at risk — before they share that silly photo of themselves and their friends or choose to reveal the more personal moments from their lives.
As it turns out, a majority of people don't actually read the Terms of Service. A survey conducted by SocialTimes found that 17.5 percent of people "always" read the Terms of Service. But maybe the remainder of those users who don't read the Terms of Service should start, especially if they're parents. Because the way attorney Jenny Afia, a privacy law expert at the U.K. law firm Schillings, rewrote the Instagram Terms of Service for a report titled "Growing Up Digital" — in a more simplified, kid-friendly way — allows everyone to see exactly what is at stake. And as it turns out, there is a lot.
There are a few alarming things that Afia's rewritten Terms of Service agreement points out — for example, by posting photos to the app, Instagram is allowed to use them or sell them without permission, or by having an account, Instagram can share personal information collected from your account with other companies.
While the rewritten Terms of Service can be may seem a little troubling, it also points out a few important rules that children need to understand — such as "don't bully anyone or post anything horrible about people" or "don't do anything that might affect how other people use or enjoy Instagram." Cyberbullying is still very much an issue and can happen on all social media platforms. These rewritten rules allow kids and adults parents to discuss those things and learn how to report cases of cyberbullying.
According to Quartz, these rewritten rules serve as "a good starting point for parents to be able to talk to their kids about what they are signing away." Down the line and into adulthood, children will be reading class syllabuses or signing job offers, where paying close attention to every detail is necessary. Reading the Terms of Service is a great place to start.
According to NPR, it takes the average user 40 minutes to read a full Terms of Service. But while it can take up precious time, it is beneficial in the long run. According to Afia's "Growing Up Digital" report, "if it is essential that children understand the functionality of the internet, then it is crucial they learn about what they're signing up to, how their data is collected, what it is used for, and how this relates to the agreements they make."
This simplified Terms of Service also shows kids that everything they post to social media can be seen — and used — by the social media website. Therefore, it is important for parents to have conversations with their kids about what they're posting to their accounts — and whether or not they want that out there forever. Instagram provides a helpful document for parents to learn about Instagram and how to talk to their kids about the app as well.
Afia's Terms of Service revision in the Children's Commissioner "Growing Up Digital" report is a great starting point for parents worried about letting their kids run wild on social media for the first time, or serve as a refresher for teens already using it regularly.