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Is Instagram safe for kids?

This is how big Instagram have grown :

  • Over 400 million active users
  • More than 40 billion photos uploaded
  • 32% of teenagers consider Instagram the most important social network
  • Majority of Instagram users are between 18 -29 years old

Now those are significant facts that parents should consider before allowing their child to be on Instagram. There are few things parents need to know about Instagram :

  1. Instaporn is a real thing

With huge number of photos uploaded daily on this platform , it is almost impossible for Instagram to monitor each photo being uploaded on this social site. It only take a few clicks to find porn on Instagram

  • Emoji tags : Certain emojis can bring out content that are inappropriate for children to use. For example : The emoji apple means ‘girl’s part’, the emoji water means ‘wet’ and many more as you can imagine.
  • Keyword search : There are certain keywords that gets banned on this platform but Instagram is becoming more relaxed about this. If you type in certain keywords such as boobz or booooobs it will bring out photos relating to that. There are also hashtags found under foreign language, ex : pörno. This is why Instagram attracts many porn seekers.

2. Self-esteem issue

This app can have a big impact on the self-esteem of many young girls. More girls are trying hard to get that ‘picture perfect’ on this platform. They end up obsessing about the likes and comments others make on their pictures. Harsh comments made by others can damage a young persons self-esteem. A recent survey conducted by Royal Society of Public Health shows that photo based platform is associated with high levels of depression, anxiety and FOMO ‘ Fear of Missing Out’.

3. Minimal control

Instagram account cannot be tracked using any form of web filters. The only way to know what your child is doing on this platform is to have their username and password. I would imagine no teenager would ever give this information to their parents. One way to tackle this is to ‘follow’ them on Instagram.

4. Multiple & Fake accounts

It is very easy to create a fake account on Instagram. In 2016 Instagram rolled out a new feature that allows you to manage multiple Instagram accounts. This is known as Finsta. Kids can use this to share inappropriate photos such as binge drinking and other riskier behavior. Some even create multiple account for the purpose of bullying others. By having multiple accounts kids can use this to leave hurtful comments on another kid’s account.

Some will even take a snapshot of your picture and create fake accounts using your photos. To protect your photos from being used by someone else do ensure that your privacy setting is set to private.

To do this :

  • Go to settings
  • Scroll down to Private Account and click on the button.

 

Is Instagram safe then?

The purpose of this blog is not to get parents to take their children devices and smack it on the ground. This would not teach children how to use technology responsibly. The purpose of this is to show parents some of the dangers of this apps and what parents should be aware off.

My answer to this question would be ‘no Instagram is not safe for children under 17 years old’. Especially for kids who have not develop the ability to resist the temptations this platform offers. Compounded by the self esteem damage that can result in many young girls on this platform to be a source of depression.

However, if you think that your child is mentally strong, does not get affected by things they see online and have a great self confidence then you are able to guide them to use this platform in the right way. At the end of the day it is up to you and your judgement on how ready you think your child is to be on Instagram.

What do I do next?

Ok, if you feel you are freaking out cause your child is on Instagram already and you don’t know what to do about it then I suggest the following :

  • Communicate with them : When your child is in a good mood tell them something like “ I recently read about Instagram and did you know that there are many fake accounts on this platform that can be a danger to you…” and see where the conversation leads. Do let them know that you can download spyware software such as bark to monitor their activities but you prefer not too and they should not give you any reason why you should use this software.
  • Decide how you will monitor their online activities : You can use certain softwares such as bark to monitor their activities. This would include following their account, looking at their followers, and monitoring for any fake accounts.

And finally, ask yourself if you think your 13 years old is ready for this platform. Though Instagram states that the minimum age to register is 13 that does not mean a 13 year old is ready for this type of photo sharing platform. The lack of parental control on this platform is something you should consider before allowing your child to sign up to this.

Let me know what your thoughts are on Instagram and is there anything else you do to monitor your kids activities on this platform

Don’t forget to stay safe online

For more discussion on children and technology do join us at Kids&Clicks

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