How to Make Sure Teens and Tweens are Safe on Instagram
Many teens and tweens seem to thrive on the attention and feedback that come with posting on Instagram. They enjoy taking pictures and enhancing them with filters and effects, then posting to see all of the awesome comments they can get from their friends. Instagram can be a lot of fun, but like any social network, it can come with a lot of risks, from exposure to inappropriate content and predators to oversharing personal information and cyberbullying. Parents need to do your due diligence to make sure that their children are using Instagram in the safest way possible.
Set Ground Rules
When you give your child permission to use Instagram, it’s important to set some ground rules for its use. You will want to have a chat about disabling their location and keeping their account set to private, as well as not including too much identifying information in their profile. There should also be rules about who they may follow and who is allowed to follow them. A good rule of thumb is that the only people who they should connect with on social sites are those they know in person. Additionally, you should be given their login information and be updated if they choose to change their password.
Check Settings Regularly
Once your child has set up their account, review the settings to make sure that their account is protected. The images on a private account can only be seen by that person’s direct followers. Also, check location sharing settings on the phone to be sure that they are disabled. If someone unscrupulous slips past your safeguards, you’ll want to be sure that they cannot easily determine the location where your child lives or goes to school.
Spot Check Their Account Often
Surprise phone checks are a good way to stay on top of your child’s activities on Instagram. Review their social shares and scroll through their feed to make sure that they are not being exposed to inappropriate content shared by their friends. Review their list of followers and look at who they follow to be sure that there are no suspicious accounts or strangers appearing in their friends list. Don’t forget to read comments and check their private messages to ensure that all communication is safe and healthy.
Install Monitoring Apps
For even more protection, install a monitoring app that can alert you to concerning activity on the account. Services like Bark, Visr, and PocketGuardian can send you a notification if there are updates or messages that have possible bullying, sexual content, drug references, or suicidal comments. Some will show the full message, while others simply let you know that their algorithm picked up something suspicious.
It can be a scary thing to allow our children to take their first steps into the world of social media. However, with careful planning and parental diligence, it is fairly easy to figure out how to keep teens and tweens safe on Instagram.