Instagram - A Parents Guide

Instagram - A Parents Guide

Instagram has been around since 2011 and is available from both the Android and Apple stores. It has gathered a huge following over those years with over 1 billion active monthly users! Instagram like the other social media platforms is an extension of a child's physical interactions with friends. Kids use social media to make and maintain friendships, share interests and develop relationships with family and friends.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo, video, and message-sharing app with a community that uses it to connect with each other through shared interests. Instagram is especially favoured by young people who use it to capture unique and special moments, connect to each other, and have conversations - using photos, videos, filters, comments, captions, emoji, and hashtags. Instagram operates on Android devices, Apple iOS and the web. The minimum age to create an Instagram account is 13.

Managing Privacy on Instagram

One of the first things you want to talk to a child about is whether their account is going to be public or private. I would always recommend that their account is kept private. Helping them to understand that they can control who sees and interacts with the things they post online, will enable them to be themselves on Instagram while staying safe online.

⚠️
Imagine a stranger looking through your photos without your permission, now read that sentence again.

As I said I recommend that your child chooses a private account for many good reasons, they approve the people who follow them and can remove followers at any time. Private accounts mean your child’s content can’t be seen by anyone they haven’t approved. Additionally, they can remove followers, choose who can comment, and turn off the “Show Activity Status” so that their friends can’t see when they are online. Public accounts have none of these safeguards and literally, anybody can view their content at any time without restriction.

Close friend list

There is an extra layer of privacy that can be used within Instagram called the 'Close Friend list' This enables the child to add and remove people to their close friend's list, without the friend being notified. Then the child can select to share content with only people on that list at times, rather than all of their followers.

Manage comments

Your child is in control of who can comment on their photos and videos. In the 'Comment Controls' section of the app settings, they can choose to allow comments from everyone, people they follow and those people’s followers, just the people they follow, or just their followers. Your child can also remove comments entirely from their posts.

Filtering out comments

There are controls that help you manage the content you see and determine when comments are offensive or intended to bully or harass. There are filters that automatically remove offensive words and phrases and bullying comments. Your child can also create their own list of words or emojis they don’t want to have to appear in the comments section when they post by going to “Filters” in the Comment Controls section.

Bulk comment management

It can feel overwhelming to manage a sudden influx of comments, Instagram has introduced features to delete comments in bulk, as well as block or restrict multiple accounts that post negative comments. To enable this feature on iOS, tap on a comment and then the dotted icon in the top right corner. Select Manage Comments and choose up to 25 comments to delete at once. Tap More Options to block or restrict accounts in bulk. On Android, press and hold on a comment, tap the dotted icon, and choose which comments or accounts to Block or Restrict.

Manage interactions

Instagram has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying. If your child is the victim of any such types of interaction or sees anything they consider to be bullying on the platform they are able to report it. All they need to do is locate the “...” on the top right corner of the post or profile, by swiping left on the comment, or by tapping and holding the message, and tapping “Report”. Reporting is completely anonymous and your child will never be identified as having created the report. You can track any reports you have made and their outcomes, to do so you enter the 'help' area of the app and then go to 'support requests', here you will see any reports you have previously created.

Pinning positive comments

In addition to removing negative comments, your child has an easy way to encourage positive interactions. Pinned Comments give your child a way to set the tone for their account and engage with their community by pinning a select number of comments to the top of their comments thread. This is done by swiping the comment and selecting the pin option.

Control tags and mentions

There are controls that allow people to manage who can tag or mention them on Instagram. Your child can choose whether they want everyone, only people they follow or no one to be able to tag or mention them in a comment, caption or Story. These options can be found under settings and then tags.

Mute an account

There may be accounts that your child isn’t interested in interacting with but doesn't want to unfollow. Muting will keep posts or stories from those accounts from showing up in your child’s feed. The other person will not know they’ve been muted, and your child can unmute at any time.

Restrict mode

Sometimes young people aren’t comfortable blocking or unfollowing someone because they feel it could lead to uncomfortable or escalated situations. To help, Instagram developed Restrict mode, which allows your child to protect their account from unwanted interactions without making the other person aware. Once they Restrict someone, comments from that person will only be visible to that person. Restricted people aren’t able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages. Your child can remove restrictions at any time.

Block an account

Your child can block accounts they don’t want to interact with. This will block people from seeing and commenting on their posts, stories, reels, and live broadcasts. When your child blocks an account, that person is not notified. Your child can unblock an account at any time.

Time management

When it comes to spending time on Instagram, it’s important to have open conversations with your child and come to an agreement about what is an appropriate amount of time on the platform each day or each week, this is the same with all social media platforms that they are a user of. Taking regular breaks can also be important, especially during stressful times.  You can work together to decide what the right balance is for your family.

Activity dashboard

The Activity Dashboard shows your child how much time they’ve spent on Instagram for the past day and week, as well as their average time on the app. Your child can tap and hold the blue bars to see how much time they’ve spent on Instagram on a certain day. This can be an eye opener for the adult and the child as sometimes we think we have spent a lot less time on our apps than we actually have!

Setting a daily reminder

Your child can use the daily reminder to set a limit on how much time they want to spend on Instagram.  Setting the daily reminder together can be a good way to talk to your child about how they are using Instagram throughout the day. It can also help with what I mentioned in the previous section about not realising how much time has been spent there.

Managing Security

I have mentioned this aspect in numerous blog posts and on my YouTube channel but it is always worth mentioning again as it is such an important part of participating in the online world. There are several features on Instagram that can keep your child safe online, which I will mention below.

Two-Factor authentication

Keep your child’s account secure and your log-in private, especially across multiple devices. Two-Factor Authentication is an additional security layer that helps secure an account from unauthorized password usage and can be enabled from within Settings. Logging into an Instagram account will then require a password as well as a security code that is sent through an authenticator app or via text message. If you want to know more about 2FA/MFA I have a video here.

Once Two-Factor Authentication is set up, you will have access to Recovery Codes, which enables you to log in if you are not able to receive your Two-Factor Authentication code via an authenticator app or via text message.

Glossary of Instagram terms

BLOCK

Block is a tool your child can use if someone is bothering them on Instagram. When your child blocks someone, the other person isn’t notified, but they’ll no longer be able to interact with your child in any way.

COMMENT

A comment is a reaction to the content someone posts on Instagram. Comments appear below posts on your child’s feed and can use words or emojis.

COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

We want to foster a positive, diverse community. Everyone who uses Instagram must adhere to our Community Guidelines which are designed to create a safe and open environment for everyone. This includes things like no nudity or hate speech. Not following these guidelines may result in deleted content, disabled accounts or other restrictions.

DIRECT OR DM

Instagram Direct is where young people can message each other individually or in groups. They can also share photos and videos with just the people they’re messaging.

EXPLORE

Explore is where young people will see photos and videos from accounts and hashtags they might be interested in. Explore is different for everyone - the content changes depending on accounts and hashtags your child follows.

FEED

Feed is where young people can see posts from the accounts they follow. Young people generally see feed posts as being more celebratory or special. Feed posts can be photos or videos.

IGTV

IGTV is a place to share video content up to one hour in length. Your child can find videos from their favourite creators, and make their own longer content.

LIVE AND VIDEO CHAT

Your child can go live to share with their followers in real-time. When live, they can invite friends to join them, co-host a live session, or leave comments and send hearts. They can also video chat in Direct with up to four people.

POST

A post refers to the media your child is putting on their Feed or on Stories. This can be photos or videos

PROFILE

Your child’s Instagram profile is where their friends and followers will find their posts and can access their stories. It also includes a short bio. If your child’s profile is private, only their main profile picture and bio are visible.

REELS

Reels allows people to record and edit short videos up to 30 seconds in the Instagram Camera. You can add effects and music to your reel or use your own original audio.

REPORT

Reporting is a way your child can let Instagram know that something they have seen is inappropriate. Your child can report anything on Instagram that they believe violates our community guidelines.

RESTRICT

Restrict is a tool that allows your child to protect their account from unwanted interactions without making the restricted person aware. Once they restrict someone, comments from that person will only be visible to that person. Restricted people aren’t able to see when your child is active on Instagram or when your child has read their direct messages.

STORIES

Stories disappear from the app after 24 hours, unless your child has enabled archiving, which makes their expired stories available only to them. Your child can subsequently share these in their Stories Highlights. Anyone who can view your child’s stories can screenshot them.

I found the below guide at internetmatters.org and it has some excellent advice for parents regarding Instagram.

I hope that this guide has been useful and if you have any questions or comments you can contact me via my email address in the about me section at the top.

Please do subscribe to the blog for future posts (Check your spam folder for the activation email after signing up)

Thanks all stay safe and remain vigilant.