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What the Heck is Instagram? Inside the App

Navigating the world of technology can be overwhelming. Trends are constantly changing, and it seems like there’s a new tool or “app” becoming popular every other minute. We’re here to help slow things down a little bit by offering educational resources that are tailored for baby boomers and beyond. We’ve chosen some of the popular technological tools that we think our participants and fans would benefit from and enjoy the most, and Instagram is #1 on the list.


So, what is Instagram?

Instagram (n. -,in(t)-stə-‘gram):
A social media platform designed for sharing photos via an app (application) on your smart phone.

Let’s break that down a little more …

Social Media Platform

Social Media Platforms include such sites and apps as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat. The purpose of these online tools is to help people connect and share digitally — to be social!

Instagram users can edit and post photos to their page, creating a live scrapbook-style journal that other users can see. You can also use Instagram to browse photos posted by your friends, family, celebrities and publications or brands that you love, and interact with those other users socially by “liking” and commenting on the photos they post.


Sharing Photos

Instagram is for sharing only photos and short videos, excluding other content like status updates and news articles that you may like to share and browse on Facebook. You can add captions to your photos, but they are usually short and appear very small below the photo. The primary focus of Instagram is sharing great photos.

Because of its focus on photos, Instagram can be a great tool for those with an interest in art or photography!

Via an App on Your Smart Phone

Instagram is designed to be used via an application on your smart phone, so you do need to own a smart phone if you’d like to try out Instagram. This also means that you need Internet access to use Instagram.

Though there are ways to transfer photos from a digital camera to your phone to post on Instagram, it’s not a simple process. Instagram is really designed for posting photos that you take on your smart phone, in real time. It’s intended to be a live documentation of your life and experiences, and photos are meant to be shared instantly, in the moment. Hence the “insta” in “Instagram.”


Instagram FAQs

Why should I use Instagram?

There are lots of great reasons to try Instagram. Here are just a few:

  1. To record your travels, like a live scrapbook
  2. To share your photos with family and friends
  3. To follow what’s happening in the lives of your friends and family
  4. To get to know new friends, like your fellow Road Scholar participants
  5. To learn about new places by browsing photos taken in locations around the world, and to inspire others with your travel photos
  6. To practice photography and photo editing
  7. To follow your own personal heroes
  8. To try something new, and #AgeAdventurously!

Who can see my photos?

When you create a new account, your page will be “public,” which means that your page and anything you post on Instagram can be seen by all Instagram users.

You can change your settings on Instagram to make your account private so that your photos are only visible to other Instagram users who have been granted your permission.

The decision about whether to make your account private or not is up to you and your feelings about privacy.

How would strangers find my photos if I have a public account?

All of the public photos posted on Instagram are searchable. Users can search for photos by keyword (attached to a photo by a hashtag) or location where the photo was taken. Browsing photos on Instagram is a great way to find out about new travel destinations or enjoy looking at photos of a topic you’re interested in (like puppies or gardens, for example). Instagram will also suggest photos that you may like on your search page.

So users on Instagram who aren’t people you know could potentially find your photos through searches.

Friends of friends may also find you through your Instagram comments or by looking at your friend’s followers. If somebody knows your username, they can go to your public Instagram page and see all of your photos.

If you make your account private, only people to whom you’ve granted permission can see your photos.

Can I edit or delete photos once I’ve posted them on Instagram?

Yes, you can edit photo captions and tags after you’ve posted them, and you can delete or archive photos so they don’t appear on your page.


Can I use Instagram when I travel abroad?

Yes, Instagram works anywhere you have Internet access. If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll want to check with your phone company if you’d like to have mobile access to the Internet wherever you go. Or you can just connect to Wi-Fi to post photos when you return to your hotel, when you find it at a restaurant or when you return home after your trip.

What is a “hashtag?”

The hashtag symbol is what touch-tone phone users will recognize as a pound sign (#). When the hash mark is placed before a word, that word becomes a tag. Hence the term “hashtag.” A hashtag is added to a post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to tag that post. That means that when a hashtag is added to a post, that post becomes searchable using that term. Click here to learn more about hashtags

Ready to get started? Check out our Instagram Tutorial Video to learn how to set up a new Instagram account. In the coming weeks, we'll show you how to navigate the app, how to post photos, comment on your friends’ photos and more!

How to Use Instagram

Already on Instagram? Follow us @rsadventures!