Here’s What That New Green Dot On Your Friends’ Instagram Profile Pics Means

Over the last few weeks, Instagram has slowly been making it easier and easier to connect with friends and followers on the app. The latest updates have proven that is definitely no longer just a photo-sharing app — engagement is super important and encouraged, which actually makes it a lot more fun to use. The newest update is an "activity status" feature that makes that even more clear. You might notice the new green dot while scrolling through your feed, but you might not know exactly what it is or what it does. So what does that green dot on Instagram mean? It's basically a way to make it even easier to slide into someone's DMs.

If you've ever wondered about the best time to direct message someone in particular, or if you've ever wanted to know if a specific follower is online, this feature is definitely going to help you out. On Thursday, July 19, Instagram announced that their new feature would be an "activity status" to make it more simple to "connect with friends on Instagram by showing you when they're available to chat." The new feature is a tiny neon green dot. When your friends are active on Instagram (so, literally when they're on the app at that very moment), you'll see a green dot next to their profile picture. The green dot will be visible in various spots within the app, like the direct message inbox and your friend list when you share a post from a feed.

There's one small catch: you won't see this green dot for everyone. You can only see the activity status for friends who follow you and people you've talked to in Direct — and those people have to have their activity status set to non-private. So, for example, you're not going to see that little green dot for a celebrity like Kylie Jenner or a blogger who doesn't follow you back. That might be slightly frustrating, but it's also great for privacy reasons. You don't want just anyone knowing exactly when you're using the app!

This activity status is definitely a great feature, as it makes it easy to start up a conversation with someone who's online at the same time you are, but it could get a little tricky. What if you want to ignore someone's message?! (We've all been there). If you think this feels a little invasive, and you'd rather not allow your friends to see when you're active and when you aren't, you can turn the feature off. According to Instagram, "you can easily hide your own status and turn off the ability to see when your friends are active in your settings."

If you don't see the activity status feature just yet, don't assume there's something wrong with your app. You might just need to update the app, so check for potential updates in the app store on your phone. Download it if one is available. If there's nothing there at all, just wait it out — Instagram typically rolls out new features, meaning some users get them before others do. Your time will come!

This is just the latest feature to encourage communication within the app. A few weeks ago, Instagram announced a new question sticker for Stories, which allows users to encourage their followers to ask questions, or just ask questions for their followers to answer. Before that, Instagram revealed IGTV, a way to create and upload longer videos that don't force you to leave the app.

Talking to friends within the app and making new friends out of really cool followers is one of the best ways to use Instagram. I can't wait to see what kind of communication features they introduce next!