It’s one of the most recognized social media platforms but is instagram safe for children to use? Here’s what parents should know.
Instagram’s widespread use is impossible to ignore. Since its introduction in 2010, the photo-sharing app has become a byword for excellent thanks to a succession of high-profile users. For better or worse, kids are the most incredible people on the planet right now.
Teens and children, who make up a significant section of Instagram’s user base, can publish photographs and videos and comment on other people’s posts with an Instagram account. Parenting Tips & Advice Parenting Advice & Tips Parenting Tips & Advice FB’s been pinned.
Instagram Stories are 15-second clips that disappear after 24 hours and allow users to communicate with friends, send private messages, view long-form content on IGTV, and search through billions of images.
With all the ability to publish information on Instagram comes a slew of safety hazards, including improper conduct and inappropriate content, as well as a desire to achieve perfection.
The app’s harmful impact on youth mental health and body image has also made the news. According to The Wall Street Journal, in September 2021, researchers at Facebook, which owns Instagram, have come to the conclusion that the platform is damaging to young females on many occasions.
Instagram has a team committed to ensuring the safety of youngsters, and they’re constantly working on new solutions to do so. Here are some guides for parents on how to keep their children safe on social media.
Instagram: What Do Parents Need to Know?
1. Instagram is an excellent place for kids to meet new people.
Instagram accounts can be made public or private via the “Account Privacy” menu option in the settings. An advantage of having a public account on Instagram is attracting new followers raising specific security issues. Anyone could see your child’s pictures and videos, as well as their remarks, and engage in inappropriate behavior. People under 16 years old (or under 18 in some countries) will now use a private Instagram account by default.
To prevent “possibly suspect conduct” from interfering with young people’s accounts, Instagram introduced additional technology. According to Instagram’s latest upgrade, “using this technology, now we won’t show these adults’ profiles in Explore, Reels or ‘Accounts Suggested For You.'” “They won’t be able to follow young people if they find their accounts by looking for their usernames.”
Finally, Instagram includes a function that, according to the company, “prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who do not follow them.'” In the case of adults trying to contact teens who don’t follow them, they receive a notification that DMing them isn’t an option.
2. Many Instagrammers are perfectionists.
“Likes” may rapidly turn Instagram into a popularity contest because they power the platform. Children’s self-esteem and sentiments of envy might be harmed by this emphasis on social status and self-promotion. To make their work stand out, kids may take risks (like the Cinnamon Challenge) or dress inappropriately to do so, according to the study.
Many young people may also have a hard time believing anything they see on Instagram is authentic. If you use filters and photo editing, you may be tempted to strive for a level of perfection that is impossible to achieve. It can also undermine a child’s self-esteem and cause them to become fixated on their physical appearance. Additionally, some social media hashtags, such as “thigh gap” and “fat inspiration,” harm one’s self-esteem.
3. There’s a chance that kids will see or hear something they shouldn’t.
A user’s Instagram homepage comprises photographs and videos that they have shared with their followers. Instagram’s Explore function, which is curated based on your child’s interests and interactions, may also be used by children. It’s also possible to search for photos using “hashtags” (categories on specific topics).
App users may come across risky students and challenges, biased or racist views, the usage of illegal drugs, and other harmful content because of the app’s nature. There is nothing stopping kids from seeing these public posts, even if they’ve made their accounts private.
4. On Instagram, there is a lot of cyberbullying.
There are reports of cyberbullying and trolling on all forms of social media. Random people or friends of the victim can be the perpetrators (if they have a public account). An annual poll from The Cyberbullying Research Center found that 36.5 percent of respondents had experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes.
5. Mental health problems are more common in social media users than in non-users.
Kids who often spend more time in front of screens have higher depression and suicidal ideation rates. A “fear of missing out” and anxiety have also been related to Instagram use (FOMO). In the absence of content screening, your children may be exposed to images or videos that are too private or sensitive for them to view, such as those that praise self-harm or promote eating disorders.
Safeguarding Your Children: A Parent’s Guide
1. Discuss Instagram candidly.
Families that want to have a better understanding of how their children use social media can start talking to their children openly and honestly. The conversation about these topics might lead to a more extensive discussion regarding whether or not young people and adults in their lives are concerned about anything related to social media use.
2. Get to know the app on your own.
Instagram can be a valuable tool for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ online activities. Consider creating an Instagram account for yourself or having a look around with your youngster. Your child’s questions about content, safety, and more will also be answered here.
3. Their privacy settings need to be updated.
You can only visit your private account if you’re a follower, unlike public accounts that anybody may see. Viewing your photographs and stories is restricted to authorized people (non-followers can only see your display name, profile picture, and bio). With a few clicks, you may make your account private or make it public again.
Using a public Instagram account may persuade an older teen to switch to a private one by sending them updates about the advantages of doing so. If you’re a personal user, you may now be even more careful about who you let connect with you. Using the “Close Friends” option, they can build a private list of followers. Only the people included on this list will be able to see the Instagram story of the user.
4. Unwanted interactions can be blocked and muted.
Through the “blocking interactions” tool on Instagram, you can prevent certain users from commenting on your posts, stories, or live broadcasts. An individual can be unblocked at any time without being told.
The account can be muted if your child doesn’t want to block anyone but doesn’t want to engage with them. It’s possible to mute a specific person’s feed or narrative postings by tapping the quotes sign in the corner of one of their posts, or both. As before, the person will never learn.
5. Commenting, reshuffling and activity status should be restricted.
No one, everyone, their followers, or people they follow and those people’s followers are all options for who can comment on Instagram postings. It’s also possible to regulate who can reshare your content and tag you in photos. It’s possible to disable the “Show Activity Status” feature so that no one can know if your child is currently online or how long ago they were.
6. Installing filters will prevent obscene content from being accessed.
Bullying and other harmful interactions can now be prevented with new tools on Instagram. A user’s feed, Explore page, profile, and live videos all have built-in filters that may automatically eliminate inappropriate language. Users can also design their custom filters. It is also possible to ban emojis from appearing in comments by selecting “Filters” from the Comment Controls menu. Consider implementing filters on your child’s accounts in conjunction with them to avoid cyberbullying.
7. Limit your screen time.
Instagram provides its users with a visual representation of how much time they spend on the app via an activity dashboard. Each day, a time limit might be established by parents and discussed with their children. Using a timer, for example, can be configured to stop using Instagram after 30 minutes every day in total (but keep in mind that your kid can still use the app after the timer has gone off; the tool is primarily for self-regulation).
Instagram users have the option of turning off alerts to prevent themselves from constantly checking for new content. If you’ve seen all the new stuff in your feed, Instagram shows a notice that reads, “You’re all caught up.” This may help alleviate the pressure to keep scrolling.
8. Set location services to “disabled.”
When posting content on Instagram, users can include a location tag. You should discuss your preferences for location settings with your teen. Allow people to post general locations (cities or states) rather than exact locations (like restaurant or street names). Alternatively, if you’re concerned about possible predators discovering your youngster, you may want to turn off location settings. In addition, you should urge your child to avoid posing in front of well-known landmarks, such as the front of their favorite neighborhood store.
9. Practice what you preach.
There are still some safety risks that can slip through the cracks, even with privacy settings in place. Before allowing your child to use Instagram, you should discuss these issues. It’s important to point out to your child that other people can take screenshots of their Instagram stories (15-second films that disappear after 24 hours), which could have long-term effects.
10. Make it easy for children who are being bullied into coming forward.
Instagram users are occasionally confronted with a photo or comment that is rude or unwanted. Let your kid know that if they come across anything that appears to be an attempt to bully or harass another person, they can go ahead and report it.
11. A third-party app might be a good option.
Some third-party apps make it easier for parents to monitor their children’s social media use. While there are several other apps out there that can help you monitor your social media activity, Bark stands out.
In terms of safety, how is Instagram handling it?
According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 13 to use Instagram without the explicit approval of a parent or guardian. In addition, Instagram is now requiring new users to provide their date of birth when registering. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are utilized to help them better understand the age of their customers (because people sometimes lie about their date of birth).
In order to keep their young users secure, the app has included a number of security measures. The following are some of the most recent developments:
- A private account will be created for everyone under 16 (or 18 in some countries).
- Instagram may send reminders to young people who already have public accounts, urging them to make the switch and reminding them to check their privacy settings.
- Parents and guardians will be barred from accessing the accounts of minors if they demonstrate “possibly suspect conduct.”
- This means that if you’re under the age of 18, Instagram will only display your advertising based on your demographics (age, gender, and location).
- As long as the youngster follows you, you can’t send direct messages to anyone under 18.
- Every time an adult behaving suspiciously attempts to connect, the teens will be informed.
- Adults will soon find it more challenging to discover teen profiles and content.