Instagram is popular with teens. In 2018, 72% of teens said they use Instagram. If you have a teen in your life, it’s important you stay up-to-date on the apps they are using. So, what do parents really need to know about Instagram?
What Parents Need to Know About Instagram
What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a social media platform that lets users share photos and videos, follow their favorite brands or celebrities, and send messages. Users can share their photos and videos publicly. Or, they can share with a list of those users they’ve approved as followers.
Instagram is owned by Facebook. But, it has a number of fun features and is photo/video driven. Users can create an Instagram Story where they post 15-second videos or slideshows that live in a circle separate from other posts. Here they can decide what kind of post to create: text, photo slideshow, video, or livestream. Then, they select the Story Controls to limit the audience, restrict message replies, and allow sharing.
IGTV (Instagram TV) is for longer videos. IGTV gives users the ability to broadcast themselves like YouTube.
Instagram also has a disappearing messages feature. Simply send a timed photo or video that is viewable once by the recipient. And, as with many social media platforms, Instagram offers direct messaging (DM).
All these features appeal to teens. In fact, many teens will select Instagram as their first social media platform.
What Is the Age Requirement for Instagram?
According to Instagram’s Terms of Service, users must be at least thirteen (13) years old to use the service. But there is no age verification process. It’s very easy for kids under 13 years old to set up an account.
What Do I Do If My Child Under 13 Opens an Instagram Account Without My Permission?
Follow up by talking to your child about the technology rules for your family. It’s not going to be an easy conversation. But, it’s going to be important to keep talking to your teen so they don’t pull away, dig in their heels, and hide all online activity from you. That’s the exact opposite of what you want. So, continue to talk and listen to your teen…even when it’s tough.
What Type of Content Will My Teen Find on Instagram?
Honestly, the content is dependent upon the user, their circle of friends, their account settings, and their searches. That might sound a bit overwhelming if you are a parent. The truth is, if inappropriate content begins showing up in your teen’s Instagram feed, you need to talk to them and do some exploring to find out why. Don’t make assumptions.
There is so much great content on Instagram. You’ll find photos and information on everything from nature to fashion. But there is mature content as well. Instagram’s terms state users shouldn’t post partially nude or sexually suggestive photos. But there are plenty of sexy images on Instagram.
You’ll also find swearing and substance abuse. A quick search of hashtags will pull up posts relating to suicide, anorexia, and other issues that are concerning.
Common Account Set Up Questions Parents Need to Know About Instagram
Is There Any Way to Keep My Teen’s Activity on Instagram Limited to Friends and Family? I Don’t Want Them Connecting With Strangers.
Instagram is like most social networking platforms. The account settings are public. So, you need to go in and make the account private when you set it up.
To do so, go to Settings from your profile page. Select Privacy and Security, then Account Privacy, and toggle on Private Account. A private account means only people you approve can see what you post.
Be sure to check out all the options in the Privacy and Security section. You can adjust your settings. I recommend teens begin with stricter settings. And then, slowly open their account. Remember, Instagram’s settings are public by default. So you’ll need to go in and edit the settings to give your account more privacy.
A Few of the Privacy Options Available on Instagram Are:
- Limit comments to just those who follow you
- Block comments from specific people
- Hide “offensive” comments
- Create specific filters for words, phrases, and hashtags
Resharing to Stories
- Control whether other people can reshare your posts
Photos and Videos of You
- Prevent people from automatically adding pictures of you to your profile without your approval
- Hide photos and videos so they don’t display in your feed
Can My Teen Block or Report Inappropriate Content and Users?
Yes! Be sure you teach your teens how to block and report as you are helping them set up their Instagram account. Many times, kids fear blocking a user who is harassing them or posting inappropriate content because they fear retaliation. So, assure your teen that they remain anonymous when they block and report someone.
Are In-App Purchases Available?
Yes! Since 2017, Instagram has offered shoppable posts and stories. In 2019, they are testing “Checkout on Instagram.” This feature will let users complete a purchase without leaving Instagram.
Why Do Teens Want to Download Instagram?
Instagram brings all the features teens love into one social media site. With Instagram, you can see, share, and comment on photos. There are lots of fun filters and cool effects that you can quickly add to photos you take. These filters give pictures a high-quality artistic look with little effort.
While many parents are concerned about Snapchat, they often don’t know it’s a feature of Instagram. So, teens love that they have the option in Instagram and parents don’t seem to mind or realize it’s an option there.
What Are the Biggest Concerns to Discuss with Teens About Instagram?
Instagram has direct messaging. Let your teen know this is a feature in the app. Anyone can send you a direct message. Direct messages from people who aren’t your friends or followers appear as a request in your Inbox. If you accept their message, future messages go directly to your Inbox. You can always report or stop someone from sending you messages at any time.
Disappearing messages are a feature on Instagram. Be sure your teen understands that they may send timed photos or video messages that recipients can only view once before they disappear. But, that doesn’t mean the message really disappears. Anyone can capture a screenshot.
Instagram is image-based. It’s not uncommon for users to quickly lose sight of the fact that Instagram is for finding friends who have the same interests. And they may begin to feel like everyone else has the perfect life. This can be confounded by the fact others can “like” and comment on your photos. Teens can begin to feel unpopular or uncool. Or, they can begin to struggle with balance as they spend an obsessive amount of time checking their status on the app.
I Keep Hearing the Terms “Rinsta” and “Finsta.” What Are They?
Rinsta “real Instagram” account– This is an account where they show their “real” self. It’s limited to a close inner circle of friends.
Finsta “fake Instagram” account– This is an account where they show their ideal self, not their true self. It’s highly curated. It’s the person they want the world to see. But, it’s not who they really are.
How Do I Tell If My Child Has a Rinsta or Finsta Account?
There are a couple of ways to check. First, ask your child openly if they have a Rinsta or Finsta account. Be sure you ask them when it’s a calm time and both of you have time to talk. Our teens are often open and honest with us when they feel they aren’t in trouble. If you feel talking to your child isn’t an option, you can check their phone. To do so, open their Instagram app. Next, tap the person icon and the arrow next to your child’s username. A second account will show up there.
As a standard rule, many teens have a 2nd Instagram account with the express purpose of keeping that account on the “down low.” It’s a “fake Instagram account.” Teens will invite a very small number of friends to their account. It’s true, some kids use a Rinsta or Finsta account to bully others or to post inappropriate content. However, most kids do not.
And, kids need to know everything they post online has the potential to go public. Everything! This includes a secret account under a fake name. It’s as simple as their friends taking screenshots of a picture and posting it elsewhere online.
Should I Let My Teen Download Instagram?
Instagram is image-based. Some teens will struggle with self-image and perfectionism. But remember, apps are tools. So, while Instagram might not be a good social media platform for one teen, it might be a great app for another.
Instagram does provide tools for blocking and reporting both users and content. It also gives users many creative features. If you decide Instagram is right for your teen, be sure to go through the app and its settings with them. Be clear about your expectations and concerns, and set up boundaries.
Make sure your child knows to come to you if they see inappropriate content or receive messages that concern them. And be open with them about how you are monitoring their Instagram account. If you see signs that your child is struggling with perfection, anxiety, or balance, have them take a break from Instagram to recalculate and readjust.
Remember, the end goal is to raise kids with a healthy perspective of social media.
Has your teen used Instagram? What do you think parents need to know about Instagram? Share it with us in the comments section!
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