Instagram, the emerging social media phenomenon, has recently launched Instagram TV, also known as IGTV. This video platform allows its users to upload vertical videos of up to 60 minutes in length.
The launch comes strategically at a time when people around the world are moving away from television and towards videos online.
You can access IGTV, the channel dedicated to user-uploaded vertical videos, through the ‘Explore’ tab on the Instagram application. Users can also download IGTV as a standalone application for their iOS or Android devices. Videos start streaming as soon as you open IGTV on your mobile screen, just like they would on a television set. Hence the name!
Having recently crossed 1 billion users worldwide, the move comes as a deliberate attempt on the part of Instagram to encourage more vertical video sharing amongst its users in addition to the existing options of photos and stories. The video platform is undeniably well suited for marketing content creators and users with a large base of fans, followers and clients.
Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, makes no secrets about his intentions of giving the video juggernaut, YouTube, a run for its money. The introduction of video as an added component to Instagram’s user-friendly social media platform with a built-in, appealing interface, promises to dazzle users with an incredible mobile video watching experience.
However, like YouTube, IGTV is bound to come with its share of complications and a few concerns, especially for parents of young children and adolescents. And one has to admit that Instagram hasn't been very forthcoming in addressing these issues. As a responsible parent, it’s advisable to keep track of how these social media platforms are used and for what purpose. And many parents swear they have seen more porn, drug paraphernalia, violence and sick behavior on Instagram than on any other application.
Sharing photos and videos amongst friends seems harmless enough, but there is no control over who sees your profile, especially when you are sharing a common digital space with users from all around the world!
As interesting, engaging videos get posted, your child can be exposed to too much screen time. On IGTV, as the videos are vertical in orientation, targeting a predominantly-smartphone-friendly viewer-base; that's the typical digital native of today! Your child can spend literally hours browsing through videos that encompass everything from comic videos, podcasts, dramas, and more! While you may feel that some videos might be educational, simply put, there is no such thing as ‘good’ screentime!
Another concern is related to the kind of value systems you would like to inculcate in your child. We advise that, when your children begin spending time on social media, you take some time to help them understand that most people only share their best moments on such platforms! Most users put their best foot forward to create the impression that one is living ‘the good life’ which is not really true. We all have our bad days, but they never make it to our profile pages! Our alter egos never encounter rough weather!
In addition, IGTV allows your children to upload videos up to 60 minutes long as well as browse through others’ videos. This brings with it problems of its own. Like YouTube and other video sharing sites, IGTV videos can be embedded on any website and these videos can be copied and reproduced, whole or in part, edited or unedited, virtually anywhere on the web. This can make those featured in the videos potentially vulnerable to cyberbullying. Allowing users to upload one-hour long video material on a public social media platform makes your child a lot more susceptible to content that’s explicit and inappropriate in nature.
Videos have the other disadvantage (from a parental/screentime perspective) of high viewership! As videos are highly engaging, the hour-long videos your child uploads attract comments of all kinds and from all quarters. This can include undesirable attention in the form of lewd, sleazy or body-shaming comments that can prove to be a very bad influence. Constantly receiving likes for funny or interesting posts, photos or videos can also create a false sense of acceptance for them that is addictive and which can, in turn, make them emotionally dependent on this kind of superficial acceptance for a sense of well being. This illusory sense of being appreciated can also put a lot of pressure on them to look better, literally… creating a whole new world of physiological and psychological issues.
While IGTV, Instagram, and YouTube are all fun ways to connect with people and share special moments with friends, care must be taken to educate your children on how to use this and other apps in a manner that's beneficial to them. Ultimately, a lot depends on how the kids are raised to handle the exposure on such applications with maturity!