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Threads – the new text-based app from Instagram

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Tool description
Foto: Azamat E // unsplash

Instagram recently introduced Threads, a new text-based app designed to facilitate private communication between close friends. With this app, users can share photos, videos, messages and stories with a selected group of people. We explain what’s behind Instagram ‘s new text-based app.

In short

  • Free messaging app for iOS and Android
  • Connection with your own Instagram account
  • Photos, stories, and direct messages are shared only with selected people
  • Minimum age according to terms and conditions 13 years, in the app stores from 12 years
  • Available in Germany since December 2023

What is behind the offer?

Threads was developed to fulfill the need for private and personalized communication with close friends. The functions of Threads have similarities with the platform X Among other things, users can seamlessly share photos, videos and messages with selected contacts as well as real-time updates that show their own activity or mood. Meta’s free messaging app aims to increase the feeling of connection between friends and fulfill the social needs and preferences of young people in today’s digital age.

What fascinates young people about it?

The functions of threads correspond to young people’s need for self-expression and social contacts. It allows users to control who can see their content and offers a more intimate space for interaction. This makes it possible, for example, to check the news without being distracted by the latest pictures and stories from all subscribed Instagram profiles. Instagram is also used by many adults and all kinds of stars and companies. This means that young people are not really ‘among themselves’ – with threads they are.

What can be problematic?

Similar to other social networks, there are also potential risks with threads. As all users can publish content there, young people can come across content that is not can be age-appropriate or even problematic, such as harmful content, hate speech, disinformation and manipulative content for political opinion making, war videos and propaganda or conspiracy myths and fake videos. Even if the content violates thread guidelines, it may be visible on the platform until it is discovered and deleted. Communication risks ranging from cyberbullying to cybergrooming can also be addressed.

What does the provider think?

Instagram offers various tools and settings to protect children and young people who use threads. This includes data protection controls, reporting functions and advice on safe online behavior. In addition, the platform regularly updates its privacy and security features to address new concerns.

This is what parents should pay attention to

An Instagram account is required to use Threads to its full extent. It is not possible to create only a Threads account. Your child will therefore probably use both platforms. Go through the settings together with your child and determine which data the app is allowed to access.

When registering for the first time, the profile is automatically set to “private” on threads for people under the age of 18. However, this default setting is very easy to bypass by clicking on “public”. Then all thread users can follow your child, repost their content, send private messages, etc. This increases the risk of unwanted contacts enormously.

As a parent, you can link your Instagram account to your child’s account. Parental supervision extends to your child’s activity on both Instagram and Threads. For example, you can view followers, accounts that are followed or privacy settings.

Try to understand why it is important for your child to share a status or certain personal information. Talk about privacy and communication risks online. Accompany your child in an age-appropriate manner and keep asking about your child’s online experiences. It is important to talk openly about this so that your child knows that they can confide in you if they experience harassment, disturbing content, cyberbullying or cybergrooming.

Use the option to delete or report content. Accounts that you no longer wish to interact with can also be blocked.

The app only offers added value if it is really only used to communicate with good friends. Your child should only include people in the list of “close friends” that they actually know. Set rules together about what content your child should and should not share. Please refer to our legal information for social media use.

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