Instagram is one of the most popular social networks among teens. However, many parents and teachers regularly ask the question, is Instagram safe? Especially since Instagram has been bought over by Facebook.
Besides data and privacy concerns with the app, there are other issues, such as self-esteem problems, fake accounts, and many more.
In this blog we will go through the following:
- Instagram Facts and statistics
- Safety issues about Instagram
- Tips on keeping children safe on Instagram
- Answer your question on whether Instagram is safe
Now let’s get started.
Facts about Instagram:
This is how big Instagram has 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
Is Instagram safe?
Now those are significant facts that parents should consider before allowing their child to be on Instagram.
There are a few things parents need to know about Instagram to be able to answer that question :
Instaporn is a real thing
With a 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 takes a few clicks to find porn on Instagram
- Emoji tags: Certain emojis can bring out content that is 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 get 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.
Don’t forget to check this out
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 person’s 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 accounts 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 accounts 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 for kids then?
The purpose of this blog is not to get parents to take their children’s 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 these apps and what parents should be aware of.
My answer to this question would be ‘no Instagram is not safe for children under 17 years old’.
Especially for kids who have not to 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 has 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 judgment on how ready you think your child is to be on Instagram.
Instagram safety tips:
1.About this account
This new feature allows users to determine the authenticity of an account by knowing more about the account details.
When using this feature you can find out when the account was created, the country the user is from, history of the account’s username, and ads the account is running.
The feature is only available for accounts with a large number of followers.
To view “About this account”:
- Go to the user’s profile
- click on Menu (3 red dots) on the account profile
- click on “About this account”.
2. Two-factor verification
The next safety feature is two-factor verification which will increase safety when login into Instagram.
You can opt for the two-factor verification method either by getting a text message sent to your mobile phone or get a code sent to an authentication app.
You will need to install an authentication app if you choose to get a code sent to you.
Instagram will automatically detect any authentication app you have on your mobile phone.
If you do not have one it will direct you to App Store or Google Play Store to install it.
To access two-factor verification :
- Go to your profile
- Click on Settings
- Two-factor verification
3. Verification Request Form
Accounts with large number of followers can apply for a blue badge which will indicate that the account is authentic to the owner and not a fake account.
This tends to be used by celebrities, politicians, and social media influencers or anyone with large followers.
Talk to your children to look out for the blue badge to ensure that they are following the ‘real’ person and not a fake account.
If your child is a social media influencer on Instagram then they can submit a form to get the blue badge.
To access the form:
- Click on your profile
- Select Menu
- Select setting
- Scroll to the bottom and click on request verification.
Keeping children safe on Instagram:
It is a good sign that tech giants are taking extra precautions in keeping users on its platform safe.
But as parents whose children are on social media do remember that no matter what layer of security there is on a network there might still be risks.
Such as identity theft, cyberbullying, and many more.
Majority of social media platforms are for 16 years old and older. Instagram and Facebook are removing underage children from their platform.
I have seen many websites that promote signing screen contracts to protect children online.
While this can help establish screen rules it does not solve the bigger problem of online safety.
Talk to your children constantly about the things they read and see online. This will help you understand their social media use.
More importantly, do not create screen rules on your own, get your children involved in this process.
Don’t forget there are certain simple steps you can take to protect your children online.
psst, don’t forget to :Download the THE GROWTH MINDSET KIT helping children to stay calm, confident and grounded even when growing up around social media.
What should I do if my child already has an Instagram account?
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.
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 for 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
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