Instagram offers inspiring and entertaining photos, opportunities for artists to express their talents, and a platform for users to express themselves through all types of pictures, videos, and captions
Like all great things, there are downsides.
Social media posts can introduce children to a number of new ideas: sex, violence, language, drugs, etc. When kids grow up, they will have the right to choose whether or not to view those posts, but there’s no reason for them to discover these concepts through the visceral medium of photos and videos until they’re old enough to make a critical choice.
To help guide them, we give you: the parent’s guide to Instagram!
Instagram guide for parents
Three big roadblocks stand in the way: Instagram’s own efforts toward safety, the difficult nature of photos, and fairness to kids.
Whereas Twitter, 8tracks, and other social media sites allow users to “Block Mature Content,” Instagram affords less control over restrictions and focuses more on connections and followers. Why?
First, they have an age restriction barring anyone under 13 from creating an account (hopefully). Second, Instagram already blocks most mature content anyway. The idea goes: by the age of 13, users should be able to better navigate their relatively safe world of social media. Of course, that isn’t always the case. In fact, we’d note that puberty can make social media an even more dangerous place in some cases.
Additionally, as we’ve mentioned, Instagram tries to block mature content, but that doesn’t always work. Current “Robot Tests” still ask users to select the photos with street signs because computers can’t recognize objects in photos. For that reason, Instagram posts are vetted by other users instead. Their response may not work, may be delayed, or may be different than your view of “family-friendly.”
Still, at the same time, kids should be able to connect with friends. Social media sites allow students to connect with others, learn about upcoming events, and begin discovering themselves. This creates a conundrum: how much leeway are they allowed? That’s up to parents: some will be okay with kids making their own choices, a number will watch carefully from their own account, others may help their help set up a new account, and still others may control the account themselves by setting the password.
We suggest both helping set up the new account and then watching from another account, as a general way to show your support and your desire to help. In the end, all situations are different and it’s your choice!
There are a few settings that may help, beyond Instagram’s own firewall. First, head to the profile tab, and use the “menu” button at the top right:
Now, head down to the “Settings” icon at the bottom right:
From there, scroll down and you’ll find the Privacy and Security section.
Great! We’re going to land here for a while and talk about a few of these functions. Namely: Account Privacy, Blocked Accounts, and Comment Controls.
Account privacy stops others from automatically following the account. To activate the block, simply hit the on/off switch.
This may ensure random people don’t start following your children at will; all their posts only show up for approved friends. If a problem arises and you need to take it a step further…
Instagram allows you to block accounts by entering them in the “Blocked Accounts” window. If your kid experience trouble with a specific person online, this may come in handy. Remember, it’s not a complete fix: people can make new accounts and find your profile again. If this happens, make sure to change your username after blocking them again.
Comment controls hide text posts from certain people, as well as language you ban. The obvious target to block is curse words, but you never know who or what other things may come up. When they do, this section allows those things to be filtered out!
Social media has a lot to offer, some good and some bad. While things will inevitably slip through the net, we hope these suggestions help you balance safety, support, and communication with your kids while they explore the exciting realm of social media!