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What is Threads by Meta? Is it Safe for Kids?

Words by
Jake Cutler

JUL 06, 2023

What is Threads by Meta? Is it Safe for Kids?

Update: This article was originally published the day Threads was launched. It was updated on August 30 and again on Sept 6th, 2023.

Meta leveraged their huge user base on Instagram to start with a bang—reports indicated over 30 million downloads of Threads on the first day. Within five days that number had climbed to 100 million. 

Despite starting with a bang, however, Threads has failed to keep the momentum – according to data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, “[Threads] ended July with 8 million daily active users…an 82% drop from its peak daily active user count of 44 million just days after Threads launched.”

Metas threads app

Zuckerberg and other Meta leaders have pointed to plans for new features (more on this below) to maintain a position of optimism. But the fanfare of the app’s first week has died down almost entirely.

The app will continue to evolve, but it seems unlikely that any changes that may come will make it any safer for kids.

We’ve gathered all the key details on its current functionality below, as well as a rundown on what parents should know about safety concerns when considering giving their children access to it.

What is Threads and How it’s Different

Threads was built by the Instagram team and is described by Meta as a platform for “sharing text updates and joining public conversations.” Users can post messages (called “threads”) that include links, photos, or videos. At first glance, it looks virtually identical to the original Twitter, but there are some differences.

Here are some key things to know:

  • Threads is free but users must have an Instagram account to use it
  • The app will automatically import the user’s Instagram username but does allow for some profile customization
  • Threads allows users to automatically follow all accounts from their Instagram followers, or manually choose a smaller selection
  • Posts are limited to 500 characters, photos are limited to 10 per post, and videos are limited to 5 minutes
  • Users can tag other users in a thread by using the @ symbol in front of their username and limit replies to their followers only, or users they’ve tagged in the post
  • Threads does not currently allow private messaging (DMs) but this feature is expected to be added in the near future. 
  • Unlike Twitter and other popular social messaging apps, Threads does not currently use hashtags, and there’s no feature to search for specific text or phrases
  • In the weeks after launch, Threads added functionality for: translations, a “follows tab” on the activity feed, the ability to subscribe to unfollowed users, and other small upgrades
four teen girls glued to their tech devices

Is Threads Safe for Kids?

No. Because Threads is directly connected to Instagram, the best assumption for parents to make is that Threads contains all the same risks present on there. Here’s a quick overview of the concerns parents should be most aware of:

Privacy and Security

According to its own privacy disclosure, Threads can collect personal information like health, financial, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases, and sensitive info. Because of privacy laws and concerns, Threads is still not available across the entire European Union.

Explicit Content

Like Instagram, Threads does attempt to prevent explicit content, but that hasn’t stopped serious issues with kids easily accessing porn on Instagram or promoting eating disorder content, so don’t expect these problems to be solved on Threads.

Scams

Threads includes language in their guidelines and legal documents to protect against scams, but those same procedures are in place on Instagram and kids are regularly victimized by scams on Instagram. So this is something to be concerned about for sure.  

Screen Addiction

Any app that includes the “endless scroll” features is a threat for excessive screen time, and that applies to Threads. The app hasn’t proven to be as engaging as the initial launch suggested it would be but, considering it was built by the same team that built Instagram, it’s a safe bet your kids will find plenty on the app that grabs their attention and holds it tight.

mother talking to her son about phone

Should parents allow their kids to download Threads?

Every kid is different so you’ll want to consider your own child’s maturity level when deciding whether to give them access. As a general rule, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The dangers of social media are too big to ignore.

Parent’s don’t have to do this alone: safe phones and watches for kids come with built in safety features that protect kids and put parents at ease.

Follow us on social media or bookmark this article—we’ll continue to update it as major changes to the app come to light.

If you have questions, let us know in the comments below!

Comments

  • Annikah on Aug 07, 2023 01:19 PM

    Hi, My mame is Annikah. I have a question, will the app Threads be added to gabb phones?!

  • Gabb on Aug 07, 2023 01:51 PM

    Hi there! Threads will not be added to our Gabb devices.

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