Social media platforms like Instagram have gained immense popularity, allowing people of all ages to connect, express themselves and share moments. Whilst Instagram provides an exciting space for creativity and self-expression, it poses potential risks.
With 8.9% of Instagram users being teenagers aged 13-17, parents must understand the impact of this platform. That’s why we’ve created a guide on how to keep your children safe on Instagram.
- Understand the Platform:
Before allowing your child to create an Instagram account, familiarise yourself with the platform’s features, functionalities, and age restrictions. Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old, so it’s crucial to enforce age-appropriate guidelines.
- Open Communication:
Maintain an open and honest line of communication with your child about their Instagram usage. Discuss the potential risks and educate them about responsible online behaviour, emphasizing the importance of privacy, consent, and respectful interactions.
- Protect Personal Privacy:
Guide your child to set their Instagram account to private and emphasise the significance of safeguarding personal information online. Encourage them not to share sensitive details like their full name, address, school name, or contact information in their Instagram bio, captions, or direct messages. Adjusting their privacy settings and being mindful of the implications of public accounts can help protect their privacy and minimize the risk of identity theft, online scams, and potential cyberbullying.
- Navigating Social Comparison:
Instagram’s photo-driven culture and filters that enhance appearance can contribute to social comparison among teens, leading to negative effects on their self-esteem and mental well-being. Reports have shown that comparing oneself to unrealistic or edited images of celebrities, influencers, or friends can result in an increased risk of eating disorders, depression, and risky behaviours. Encourage your child to be mindful of the potential impact of social comparison on Instagram and promote a healthy body image.
Foster open conversations about the dangers of seeking validation through likes, followers, or comments, emphasizing the importance of self-acceptance and authentic connections over superficial metrics. Help your child develop a positive mindset and encourage them to focus on their unique qualities and interests rather than striving for unattainable standards set by others on social media.
- Be Mindful of Content:
Help your child understand the impact of the content they share on Instagram. Please encourage them to think critically before posting, ensuring they are aware of potential consequences and the importance of respecting others’ privacy and intellectual property rights. Sharing too many personal details online can set them up for serious privacy risks, including identity theft, online scams, sextortion, or cyberbullying.
Additionally, oversharing can hurt potential schools and employers who may disapprove of the content teens choose to share online. By instilling a sense of responsibility and awareness, you can empower your child to make informed decisions about what they share on Instagram, protecting their privacy and reputation.
- Follower Management:
Assist your child in managing their followers and friend requests. Encourage them to only accept requests from people they know personally and trust. Regularly review their follower list together, removing any unfamiliar or suspicious accounts.
- Explore Privacy Settings:
Take the time to explore Instagram’s privacy settings with your child. Familiarise yourselves with features like comment filters, blocking users, and restricting unwanted interactions. Enable settings that provide an extra layer of security and minimise the chances of encountering inappropriate content.
- Cyberbullying Awareness:
Educate your child about the potential risks of cyberbullying and how to handle such situations. Encourage them to report any instances of bullying or harassment to you and the appropriate channels within Instagram.
- Setting Time Limits:
Instagram and other social media platforms can be addictive and time-consuming. Establish reasonable time limits for your child’s Instagram usage and encourage them to engage in other activities that promote a balanced lifestyle.
- Stay Involved:
Continue to monitor your child’s Instagram activity regularly, without being overly intrusive. Encourage them to come to you if they encounter any issues or have concerns about their online experiences.
Instagram can be an enjoyable platform for kids to express themselves and connect with others. Still, parents must play an active role in guiding their children’s online experiences. By implementing the tips outlined in this guide, parents can help safeguard their children’s privacy and promote responsible digital citizenship, fostering a positive and secure environment for them on Instagram and beyond.
Remember, open communication, education, and ongoing parental involvement are key elements in ensuring your child’s safe and enriching Instagram experience.