If you’re like most parents, your kids are probably constantly asking you for things. And if you’re a parent of a child getting closer to the teenage years, Instagram is probably at the top of that wish list. But before you give the go ahead, here’s some important things to consider to keep your kids safe.
Ah Instagram. The land of beautiful pictures, hilarious videos, and influencers galore. But amidst the perfectly posed shots, there can be dangers lurking around every post for kids. As a parent, it can be difficult to determine what the real dangers of Instagram are, and whether or not Instagram is a safe option for your kids. Knowing how to help your kids navigate social media can be tricky, but determining whether your child is ready for “the gram” can be an exercise of trust building for you and your child.
Here’s 3 things to consider when determining your kids safety on Instagram:
Instagram’s rules prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from having an instagram account. Knowing this should be the foundation for determining if Instagram is right for your child. As far as the app goes, there is no kid safe Instagram out there, so it’s best to keep those younger than 13 completely off the app.
For your over 13-year-olds, here’s a few questions to think about:
Can your child differentiate between what is real and what is fake? It can be really hard for kids (and adults for that matter) to not let the edited portrayals of others be detrimental to their mental health. See this article for insights on how Instagram impacts kid’s mental health and perfectionism.
Is your child mature enough to talk to you whenever something doesn’t feel right about an interaction on their account? A large part of being mature enough for this app is a child being willing to be honest and open about all their interactions, especially if adults are trying to contact them.
Will your child agree to setting time restrictions and be honest about their use of Instagram? Work together with your child to come up with good Instagram usage limits, and put them on yourself as well! If you and your child are on the same page with your screen time usage, you’ll be able to hold each other accountable.
While Instagram is a wonderful way to stay connected with friends and family, not everyone is friendly. Talk with your child about privacy settings, and make sure to update them together. Setting their account up as private is a top way to keep kids safe on Instagram.
One of the major dangers of Instagram is what kids are willing to say when hiding behind their screens. Cyberbullying is a major issue for a lot of kids. Talk with your child about what cyberbullying looks like, and make a plan for what your child will do if cyberbullying is ever an issue.
Help your child be on the defense for cyberbullying by making sure you know your kid’s username and password. This way you can have full visibility to what’s going on at any time. You can also turn off commenting on your child’s posts if cyberbullying or negative comments ever become an issue.
When thinking about how to keep kids safe on Instagram, there may be a slightly different answer for every kid. Because everyone is so unique, one of the top things you can do when navigating Instagram is to establish boundaries WITH, not for, each of your kids individually.
Before your child ever downloads the app, sit down with them and listen to what they have to say about keeping themselves safe and happy on Instagram. Then, share your ideas and feelings on how you would like to keep them safe.
After you’ve established a plan, have weekly check-ins to go over how they’re feeling, take a look at what kind of content they’ve been viewing, and listen to what types of things they are finding on the app. And this shouldn’t be all serious talk! Sharing a laugh over a good Reel is a great way to connect with your kid and continue to establish a relationship of trust.
Ultimately when it comes down to the question, is instagram safe for kids? The answer is yes and no. Keep kids under 13 away from the app until they’re mature enough to handle it. But more important than just age, helping your child be aware and prepared to face the dangers of Instagram can be an exercise in personal responsibility and trust. Honest and open communication combined with making a safety plan together will help to keep everyone safe while they explore the magical world of Instagram.