Instagram is vastly popular with kids and teens because it gives them an opportunity to define who they are outside of their family. They get to document their lives, look at what their friends are doing in theirs, and make new connections along the way as well. But along with all of the positives that come with being on Instagram, there are a lot of social pressures that develop with having a social media presence. And if not prepared to tackle those pressures or do not know how to deal with potentially dangerous situations that may arise, Instagram can become a platform that is anything but fun and inviting to be a part of.
Here are ways parents can keep their kids safe on Instagram.
Set Age Limits
The age that kids are getting a smartphone is younger than ever before. According to NPR, the average age that kids now own cell phones is 11 years old. And while that seems young, according to the publication, one in five eight-year-olds owns one as well. Because of this, it is up to parents to set age limits on what, if any, social media use is allowed on these phones.
The Children’s Online Privacy Act was enacted in 2012, as a way to keep kids under 13 years of age safe from marketing on the internet where their personal information would be collected without parental consent, according to CNN. As such, kids should not have social media accounts until they are at least 13-years-old.
Because Instagram and other social media apps are not patrolled for the age of kids, many under the age of 13 have their own accounts. This means that parents have made the decision to allow their kids to have Instagram, which is their prerogative. However, it also means that they are responsible for making sure that the content kids are being exposed to is age-appropriate.
At the end of the day, it is up to parents to allow their kids to have Instagram. And setting appropriate age limits is a very important way of keeping kids safe on social media platforms.
Use The Privacy Setting
For kids who are on Instagram, a very easy way to keep people they do not know from looking at their accounts is to use the privacy setting. By doing this, a quick and easy fix is made to ensure that anyone who wants to follow the account is someone the kids know.
In July, Instagram made the announcement that for users who were under 16-years-old, the settings on the account would be automatically set to private. As such, in order to allow people to follow them that they do not know, kids would have to manually change the setting. And while this was done as a result of pressure from lawmakers, it is one more step to keeping kids safe on Instagram.
Turn Off Location Settings
When posting a picture to Instagram, the location of where the picture was taken is published for all to see. In order to combat this and remain safe on Instagram, the location settings should be turned off.
While kids should know who all the people are who are following them on Instagram, that does not mean others who are tagged in the picture have the same followers. As such, to not let strangers know where kids’ local hangouts are, according to BloggingdotCom, kids should be instructed to never put their location on their Instagram photos.
Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Knowing what is going on a child’s Instagram feed is one of the most crucial things parents can do to keep their kids safe. And because of this, if kids refuse to let their parents be one of their followers or do not allow them to see what is being posted on their feed, then it is not necessary for kids to have Instagram.
Just because parents are monitoring the Instagram account does not mean that there are no other accounts to be monitored as well.
According to Protect Young Eyes, many kids who have an Instagram account also have a Finsta, or fake Instagram account. And if kids have this, which is generally done to have more “real” photos of themselves and have more exclusive followers, parents need to know so that they can monitor Finstas as well.
Open Lines Of Communication
Open lines of communication are key to keeping kids safe when they are on Instagram. This is because when kids feel like they can talk to their parents they will share more. And the more that is shared, the more parents are kept in the loop of what is happening in the daily lives of their kids.
One way to be open, according to the Associated Press is to go through a social media feed that a parent has regarding the pictures they see.
They should also run through potential scenarios that could come up from friends wanting to share pictures or the like, and if something makes kids feel uncomfortable, they should know how to respond, per the publication.
The more that parents and kids communicate about potential pitfalls on Instagram, the better kids will be at avoiding them. And instead of finding themselves in potentially unsafe situations, they can use Instagram for what it was intended for and that is to connect with friends and those who have shared interests.
Source: NPR, CNN, Instagram, BloggingdotCom, Protect Young Eyes, Associated Press
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