Instagram released a new feature to their messenger platform in late 2020 called “Vanish Mode.” Similar to the popular app Snapchat, Instagram’s Vanish Mode allows your messages to disappear. Unlike Snapchat’s automatic feature, Instagram requires you to turn on this feature in order for messages to disappear.
How to Use Vanish Mode
You can turn on and off Vanish Mode with a simple swipe up.
1. Open Instagram and select the Chat icon on the top right-hand corner.
2. Create a new message or open an existing chat.
3. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to start Vanish Mode and release.
4. Once Vanish Mode is on, the screen will turn black and shush emojis will fall from the top of the screen. You can then message as normal, except your messages in this chat will disappear for you and the other person.
5. If you want to stop using Vanish Mode, simply tap Turn Off Vanish Mode at the top of the screen.
Why is Vanish Mode Dangerous for Kids?
Monitoring your child’s messenger use just became even harder, while sexting, cyberbullying, and messaging online predators became even easier. Here are a few reasons kids activate Vanish Mode:
1. The ease of sending self-destructing messages including naked images, inappropriate messages, and intimate videos.
2. Cyberbullying and other online abuse.
3. Discussing drugs and other illegal or inappropriate activities with their friends.
With online predators being 93% more active since the start of COVID, they are using disappearing messages to their advantage.
But why do online predators do this? First, it is harder for the victim’s parents and friends to see messages/images that disappear. Second, they know kids will feel they have an extra layer of privacy with a low risk of getting caught. Lastly, it is more difficult for law enforcement to capture evidence of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
What Can You Do as a Parent?
1. Talk with your children about disappearing messages and the threat they pose to their online safety. Make rules and boundaries about using Vanish Mode.
2. Make sure they know that messages can still be saved on Vanish Mode. There are many apps that capture conversations without the other user knowing.
3. No phones in the bedroom or bathroom! Kids are less likely to send inappropriate messages in public spaces.
4. Invest in a monitoring app! We recommend Bark and Life360 . These monitoring apps allow you to track what conversations are being had in real-time to avoid any dangerous relationships are forming.
Join investigator Moe McClanahan every week for a live cyber tip on our Instagram!
The mission of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation is not only to protect youth from those who would do them harm, but pro-actively educating them in the safe and responsible use of today’s ever-changing technology. Together, we’re improving and saving lives. Help us continue educating kids online by donating today.