We live in an era where thoughts are more easily broadcast than formed. And social media defines the world of under-18s more than for any other generation past.
When teens want to join a social media network of millions of users, it becomes vital for parents to safeguard their young – and not-so-young – children.
Instagram, with its 700 million active users, is fast becoming the number one social platform among teens.
Like any other social network, Instagram allows users to share personal images and videos, chat via direct message and announce their exact location to a following of strangers.
With the minimum sign-up age set at 13, where does this leave parents?
Here are some guidelines to ensuring your child stays on the safe side.
1. Ensure privacy settings are appropriately set
Your first step is to simply make the account private. Instagram’s default visibility setting is public, so it’s important to make sure all private settings are turned on.
If the "Posts Are Private" setting in the profile segment is turned on, you’ve successfully set the account to private. By doing this, potential followers have to be approved – giving you some control over who views your child’s photographs.
Turn off the location setting feature
Checking the location-sharing option is another way to make the account as private as possible. If you give it some thought, sharing their location with strangers is the last thing you want your child to be doing.
The "Add to Photo Map" option is set to private by default, but double checking that this feature is properly turned off is a good safety measure.
2. A strong password is a must
This is important even for your own accounts. Make sure your password is a combination of a number, a symbol (eg @, #, $, %), upper and lower case letters, and has a minimum of six characters.
3. Set ground rules
Before allowing your teen to create an Instagram account (or any social media account for that matter), have them agree to a few ground rules.
Like real ones, virtual rules will vary from parent to parent, but rules around acceptable photo content, language used in comments, and having full access to the account could be considered.
This way, foul play can be easily detected, and you reserve the right to delete the account if any rules (real-life or virtual) are broken.
4. Inform your kids about potential dangers
It seems obvious, but how different are online strangers to real world ones? Prompt them to be as weary of their ‘followers’ as any other stranger.
5. Get to know the platform
A working understanding of the network, trends and new features can make a world of difference, if the kids are going to be online savvy – then so should parents.
6. Ensure your teen knows these counteractive measures
Settings to be aware of if you find privacy is knowingly (or unknowingly) compromised:
- The untag option: by clicking on their username, your teen can untag themselves from images in public profiles.
- Blocking: unwelcome and consistent tagging and messaging is considered online harassment – make sure your teen knows how to block creepy (or just plain annoying) followers.
- Flagging: any offensive images, videos or comments can be flagged, and any violation of Instagram's community guidelines can be reported. Click on the dots on any post for the Report Inappropriate tab. For immediate response, find the Help Centre in the profile segment.
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