While writing an email a while ago, I mentioned to my niece that I was going to attach five or six photos to send to a friend. She looked at me like I had told her I was born on Mars. “That’s old school,” she piped up after thinking it over a bit. “Why don’t you just use Instagram?”
I’m sure by now you’ve had similar conversations about social media apps with younger members of your family. They can’t believe we still function without them—and we can’t really understand what all the fuss is about.
Well, guess what? There’s nothing difficult or mysterious about using social media—in fact, there’s a lot about it that’s really fun, and convenient. If you want to stay in touch with your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews, it’s practically a necessity. They use apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the same way we used postcards and passed notes back in our day.
My niece was right. I started using Instagram, and it’s made sharing photos so much easier. So this week, I’ve decided to pass along a few tips about how and why you might enjoy it, too. It’s a photo and video sharing social media app that works sort of like Facebook, but instead of sharing words, you just share images. It’s a digital photo album you can share with anyone or add to anytime you want.
Instagram is really simple to use. You download it from your smartphone’s app store (it’s available for both Android and iPhone). Once you open it, it connects directly to your phone’s camera and photo gallery, so with the click of a button you can either take a photo, or select an existing one. And just like that, you’ve got a picture to share.
You can share photos with people whom you specifically choose. Best of all, you can categorize photos using “hashtags,” which you create by putting the # symbol before a keyword. For example, I’ll mark my photos with the tag “#ThomasFamily” so members of my family on Instagram can search for them. Marking your photos with consistent hashtags is an easy way to keep them organized.
Another unique feature with Instagram is the ability to edit your photos. You can apply and adjust “filters” to change the coloring, lighting, and even the whole mood of the image. You can convert color photos to black-and-white, or add a sepia-tone filter to give it a vintage feel.
With hundreds of millions of users, Instagram is also a pretty neat way to view interesting photographs. You’ll see posts from professionals, amateurs, businesses, and celebrities—it seems like everyone is doing it! You’ll find just about any person, place or subject you can think of here.
You’re now well on your way to surprising the younger set by becoming social media savvy—you certainly won’t be left in the dark the next time you hear your kids, or grandkids, talking about Instagram! In my next post, I’ll tell you about Snapchat, another photo and video sharing app, but one that comes with a neat twist. Until then, don’t be afraid to be social!