THREADS is a text-based social media app that lets users microblog, posting their thoughts in text, as well as sharing photos, videos, and links from other sites or apps.
It’s available for both iOS and Android and requires an Instagram account in order to sign up (it’s technically an Instagram app, and users’ Instagram accounts are directly connected to their Threads accounts).
The setup is very similar to Twitter. Users can follow different friends and accounts of their choosing and see their posts in the Thread feed. At the time of launch, that feed isn’t chronological and instead follows an algorithm, which means the top of your feed could have a post from three hours ago or three days ago. And since there aren’t any hashtags as there are on Twitter and Instagram, there’s no clear content categorization.
You can communicate with other Threaders by commenting on their posts or mentioning them in your own post, but, unlike on Twitter, there’s no option to privately direct message other users.
Threads posts have a limit of 500 characters and can include videos up to five minutes long or a maximum of 10 photos (which show up in an aesthetically pleasing carousel similar to that of Instagram).
Parents’ Guide to Threads
Parents need to know that Threads is a text-based social media app created by Meta. It requires users to have an Instagram account if they want to sign up, and its microblogging format is similar to Twitter.
Users can share their thoughts in 500-character-maximum posts that can include uploaded videos or photos. They can also follow accounts and interact with others on public threads.
While, at least so far, Threads’ content is less problematic than either Twitter or Instagram, since content is user generated, kids may encounter any/all of the following: explicit language (“f–k,” “ni–a,” “s–t,” “bitch,” and more); content centered around dating, relationships, and sex; instances of cyberbullying and hate speech; brands promoting their products and services; and discussion, promotion, and depictions of drinking, drugs and smoking.
Typical for any Meta-created app, there are also privacy and data sharing concerns. Threads’ data collection is actually more significant than that of Twitter and is included but not limited to financial info, search history, contact info, and “sensitive info.”
Beyond the general concerns associated with most social media apps, Threads does offer a platform for youth voices to be heard and lets users form connections with others around the world.
Users under 16 will be issued a private account by default, but all users can choose to have their account be private and can control who sees and interacts with their posts through various privacy settings.
As a safety measure, you have the ability to block, mute, or report any user or post. When it comes to deleting your account, it’s all or nothing. Although you can deactivate your account (which is more like putting it on a timeout), you can’t fully delete your Threads account unless you delete the Instagram account it’s attached to.
As far as a safe space for kids to share and communicate, Threads is probably best reserved for teens who feel they can handle social media responsibly.
In many ways, it could serve as an entry point to social media (if that’s something kids are expressing interest in), since it currently doesn’t rely heavily on sharing filtered images, comparing curated versions of your identity, constantly coming up with new ideas for videos, or staying on top of content trends.
Instead, Threads offers the chance to dive a bit deeper, allowing for freedom of expression and ideas through written word first and giving teens (and adults) a nice break from the sensory overload of platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Talk to Your Kids About …
- Families can talk about the benefits of text-based social media apps like Threads. How can an app like this be used in a positive way for youth voices? How can apps like this be used negatively? Kids: Can you create a contract for how you’ll use this app?
- Talk about and do research on the importance of protecting your privacy on apps. Threads says that it collects data from users, and users must agree to let it have access to this data in order to create an account. Is using an app worth handing over your sensitive information? Why, or why not? Do you know how to find information about how an app uses the personal information you give it access to?
- Parents: Although there are some privacy settings within the Threads app, they tend to fall short on protecting private information teens may provide when using the app. Talk to your kids about how to stay safe online and on apps. You can also look into phone settings that may be able to protect teens further and encourage safer digital habits.