Updated: Mar 27, 2020
In a world of ever-changing social media channels, it is hard to keep track of what your kids are doing online. Should you restrict them from using all social media? Or maybe just let them use what they want to and hope it all ends up fine in the end. Maybe you even feel compelled to track everything they do online.
LPNP asks a different question: What if we approached online safety for our kids the way we do when they are a new driver? Think about it, we don't hand the keys over without making some basic things clear. For example, how to drive the car, the fact that the road is dangerous, that they should never pick up strangers, etc. As with driving, there are no guarantees to online safety. When they do jump into their social media 'vehicle', we can only do our best to prepare them to avoid the risk inherent with social media. One such platform is Instagram, let's take a closer look at navigating that freeway.
One Caveat: No matter how much you restrict your children’s online usage while they are at home, they will still be able to find porn online outside of the home. The more you restrict and control, the more they will look for workarounds and loopholes. It is imperative that you have open conversations with your children about the dangers of porn so they are empowered to make smart choices, even if you’re not around.
Want to learn how to do this? Check out our Defend Home classes!
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a popular social media site – especially for kids. The average user on Instagram is 35 years and younger. People share videos and images of their lives – typically filtered or improved to display an alternate reality. You can also send private messages to other Instagram users.
The average user on Instagram is 35 years and younger.
Instagram is a great channel to connect with friends and family to see photos of their daily lives. It is also fun to follow brands you like, influencers for your passions and celebrities you admire.
Instagram accounts can either be private or public.
Private - When someone has a private Instagram account, only their friends can see the posts they are sharing. In order to view someone’s private Instagram, they must request access which must be approved by the account holder. Private messages cannot be sent between accounts that are not connected.
Public – When someone has a public account, anyone on the app can see their photos or send them private messages. Everyone can see these posts - including those that have private accounts themselves.
Content on Instagram
There is porn on Instagram. Many hashtags are used to signify that an account has pornography on it. Some accounts are even dedicated to porn! Our friends at Protect Young Eyes explore this fact in much greater detail.
Instagram is a popular social media platform for traffickers and predators to connect with young users.
Even worse – Instagram is a popular social media platform for traffickers and predators to connect with young users. They typically target young people who feel alone and self-conscious. This is often the first step in the grooming process. Check out this incredible awareness project conducted by Bark that explores this idea in further detail. (Trigger Warning: this video contains graphic content that some may find disturbing.)
Some users have two Instagram accounts. One is their “public” Instagram account and one is a hidden account called a “Finsta.” Oftentimes if a user knows their account is being watched by a parent or an employer, they will make a second, private account where they post things they would not want certain people to see. Unfortunately, these “certain people” almost always include parents.
Some users have two Instagram accounts. One is their “public” Instagram account and one is a hidden account called a “Finsta.”
The most obvious safety step for Instagram is to keep account settings private. This way your child has control over their Instagram and who they are interacting with.
It is also important that you communicate with them about safety online. If someone they do not know messages them, they should definitely not respond. Remember the vehicle metaphor? Never pick up strangers! Even if the initial message may seem harmless, you or your child should never reply to a message from someone that you don't know on Instagram. Sadly, some surf social media to specifically target children.
It may seem tempting to scroll through your child’s phone and read all of their messages, but this is not very effect. There are always workarounds. Your kids can (and probably will) delete any messages they think you won’t like.
You or your child should never reply to a message from someone that you don't know on Instagram.
The best recommendation we have for you is this – make sure you are having open, frequent conversations with your child about online safety. Read this blog post together. Let them know they can come to you with any concerns they have. Just as you would teach them to safely drive, teach them how they can use the platform safely. They will get the message: regardless of the social media freeway they are on their awareness and discipline is their best safety feature. With a few strategic steps, your child can safely use Instagram!