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  1. MissTwyla says

    Hi Jean, in addition to the items you posted about, I believe it is important to “follow” your children and ensure their behavior is acceptable and those they are interacting with. My 11 year old daughter has an instagram account. I follow her and nearly all of her friends. I find that most kids are respectful. However, there are several who add anyone and everyone. Kids often post their cell phone #’s and share what school they go and what area they live in. Others participate in cyber bullying. The cyber world is a dangerous forum. Parents should be aware of the dangers outside of the obvious. Ensuring your a child has a private profile and the geo tracker off is not enough. Perhaps you can elaborate to include such dangers.
    I appreciate your blog and the information you provided and look forward to reading your blog in the future.

    • Jean says

      Thanks MissTwyla and I totally agree with you! I often mention in articles that its a good idea to “follow” or “like” your child’s profile on social media accounts. I also follow my daughter on Instagram and see the same kind of behavior you mention from some of her schoolmates (usually a bit older). This gives an opportunity for discussion and some teachable moments! Being involved in our children’s online life is an important part of parenting these days.

  2. Susan says

    Hi! I am 14 years old and I’ve had an instagram for about a year now! To parents who are questioning if they should allow their child to have an instagram: over the one year that I’ve had an instagram, I have not experienced any cyberbullying, or nudity so far. Unless you search for racy pictures, depending on who you’re following, it’s very rare to come across one. I only let people that I know follow me, and my account is private, so people have to request to follow me. I do get requests from people I don’t know occasionally, but it’s easy to decline their request and block them. My mom has an instagram as well as many other of my friends moms, and they all follow me. I rarely post pictures that expose a clear view of my face, mostly just pictures of my pets and pointe shoes/dance related pictures (because I’m an aspiring ballerina). I would describe instagram as Facebook without statuses, messaging, photo sharing, photo albums (you can only post individual photos on Instagram) and descriptive info about yourself. All it asks for is a Username, email (which is not listed in your profile) Name (I only use my first name) and a password. It is optional to put your phone number in (I didn’t put mine and don’t know anyone who did). If you set your privacy settings right, only follow people you know and only let people you know follow you, and don’t give out personal information in picture descriptions, I see instagram (in my opinion) as being harmless :)

    • Jean says

      Hi Susan, thanks for your thoughtful response! It is good to know that teens like you are being responsible online. And I agree that using proper privacy settings, only following those you know and vice-versa, and not sharing personal information is the way to go.

    • Eloise says

      Unfortunately, I have found that even looking any tags, including harmless ones like “selfie” “cute” etc. can result in finding disgusting, pornographic images. :/ I do not recommend this app for kids. Even as an adult myself, I am hesitant to continue using instagram.

      • Jean says

        Hi Eloise,
        Ugh, it’s too bad that people post that stuff. Parents should definitely be aware of the kinds of things a kid could stumble upon.

    • Jean says

      Hi Jim, I’m not aware of any way to block or limit the “Explore” tab in Instagram. That would be an excellent option though and I’m sure many parents would welcome that as a way to make Instagram a bit safer for their kids. I do know that if you come across an inappropriate photo you can click a little icon below it (looks like three dots) to report it as being inappropriate. I’ve done so on a few occasions!

      • Jim says

        Thanks, Jean. I think Instagram is a well designed and fun app, but until they add some parental controls, I’m not permitting my children to use it. There’s just too great a risk of them inadvertently coming across inappropriate photos and comments. Best wishes and thanks again.

  3. Jen says

    Once I change these settings, how do I lock them so that my child cannot undo the settings or change them himself? Because the way it is setup right now he could change them any time he wanted to whether on purpose or by mistake. It doesn’t do much good to have parental controls if you cannot keep them from tampering with them.

    Thanks.

    • Jean says

      Hi Jen,
      Yes that’s true you cannot lock this setting into place. I guess I wouldn’t really call it a parental control feature, as Instagram is not really designed for kids in the first place. It’s just a way to limit who can see the photos that an Instagram user shares.

  4. Alice says

    Hi Jean, thanks for the really useful article. Are you aware of the “roleplays” that seem to be happening on Instagram? I found my 13yo daughter photographing herself in a very short dress for a Hunger Games roleplay.

    (Cue stern words and removal of internet access until she told me her Instagram name. She says she no longer posts any photos of herself and participates in roleplays only by posting pictures of objects.

    However are you aware of issues with roleplaying on Instagram?

    • Jean says

      I have only recently heard of this. I asked my daughter who had heard of this also but has not participated. I did find more than a few roleplay “hastags” on the Explore tab in Instagram. I guess the same rules and concerns would apply – if they are “role playing” with actual friends, have private and not public accounts, and keep it “clean” (not like the skimpy dress you noted) then it could be fine.

  5. marry says

    hi jean, I’m 14 years old and my mom is questioning Instagram, I had it once before but she didn’t approve it… me and my 15 year old sister are trying to convince her that with these private settings on it make it safe, please explain in your reply that it is safe… thanks a lot
    – marry&courtney
    reply asap please&thanks

    • Jean says

      Hi Marry,
      Well as a mom myself I do have to say listen to your Mom!! While the settings described here will make Instagram safer, that doesn’t mean you won’t come across inappropriate content either on your friends accounts or public accounts you might encounter. There might be other reasons your mom might not want you to have it, like spending too much time online or on your mobile device. Not sure this helps but you could ask your mom if you can try it for a few weeks to prove you can be responsible; also I’d suggest she join Instagram if possible if you are going to use it. Remember, she’s got your best interests in mind!

  6. unknown says

    Hi, I have Instagram on my HTC, so I hve downloaded it from Google Play Store. How do I make my pictures private on this phone?

  7. Jenessa Henderson says

    Most of my friends have an Instagram and their only 9 years old.I told my mom and she still won’t let me download it!:(

  8. Anonymous says

    Hi Jean, for the last 6 months or so, I’ve been trying to convince my parents to let me have Instagram. I am above the age requirement, but they are worried about “predators” along with other things. It seems to me that as long as you take the correct safety measures, you have nothing to worry about. Are my parents right to be concerned?

    • Jean says

      Hi, I think your parents are right to be concerned. While setting the profile to private is a good step towards safety, there could be other issues. You would still be able see any inappropriate content your friends (who you follow) post, along with anything found on the “popular” tab and from clicking around. Not to mention that Instagram and other sites can be highly addicting and take away from what you should be doing like homework and physical activity! So it really is up to your parents, but you can always show them this article!

  9. says

    Great piece! I just want to add that the privacy settings can be easily reversed. Parents, however, can do an online search for their child’s user name. If the account has been reversed to “public” their child’s photos will appear in public search results. When you switch the account back to “private” the photos will instantly be removed or locked.

  10. Kristin Geiser says

    Three Bay Area families have created a petition that is asking Instagram (now owned by Facebook) to make the default settings private and geolocation disabled for 13-17 year old users. In other words, we are asking that minors’ photos and exact locations default to a “private” setting that requires the account holders’ permission to view or “follow.” Believe it or not, the current default setting is “public.” Please take just a moment to read the petition, to sign if you would like to, and – importantly – to forward to any and all friends and colleagues who might be interested (this is really important!). Thanks so much for joining us in asking for this very basic level of protection of and respect for minors. Let’s see if we can do this!

    Here’s the link: change.org/instagramsettings

    Time is a bit of the essence. If we garner a bit of global traction within a few days, Change.org will leverage staff time and resources to support this petition.

    With gratitude,
    Kristin (with Mary and Robin)

    • Jean says

      Thanks Kristin – I’m sure many readers of this site will be want to sign! It does seem like they have the resources and technology to make these changes; as Facebook, the parent company, does have similar protections in place for 13-17 year old users.

  11. Meghan says

    Hello, I have an account and I made the mistake of saying yes to somebody who asked me to be his BFF. Now this somebody is letting everyone know that I’m his BFF. I decided to block him, since I didn’t know him, but I feel kinda sad because I don’t know if he’s trying to be kind to me or not. Can you help me? Thanks!

    • Jean says

      I’m not really sure if I can help, sounds like you did the right thing by blocking this person. I don’t think someone you don’t know can really be a “BFF” so I wouldn’t worry too much about hurting their feelings.

  12. Hannah says

    I Want instagram but one time I got it some not very appropriate photos popped up is there a possible way to block that stuff? Or do I just make my profile private?

    • Jean says

      Hi Hannah,
      Even if you made your profile private, you might still sometimes see inappropriate photos on the “Explore” tab, or if anyone you follow shares something inappropriate.

  13. Maria says

    Hi! I am 14 years old and I’ve been using Instagram since the beginning of this year. I think it is a very fun app to use and to keep in touch with friends. In my opinion, it is much more safer than Facebook, with the right privacy setting. I think this because you can ‘lock’ your Instagram and nobody can see anything except for your profile picture. On Facebook, you can block independent people, but there may always be somebody who stalks you and they are able to see your cover picture and profile picture. If you want to share pictures with friends I recommend Instagram, plus it makes your pictures much prettier. Thanks for the article!

  14. Wendy says

    My concern with instagram is that even with a private account, you can view profiles of your followers and followings. A friend may have 1,000 followers which may include inappropriate profile pictures. Any way to prevent that? A child could view an endless amount of these profiles even with a personal private account. This should be a huge concern to every parent out there.

    • Jean says

      Hi Wendy,
      Yes that is indeed a concern, that even with a private account you still have access to view anything that is public on Instagram. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s not a bad idea as a parent to join Instagram with your own account and experience a bit of what your child is experiencing.

  15. Mango says

    Hey. I am younger than 12. 11 actually. I don’t always use Instagram but I know how dangerous it is. For parents, keep on checking your kid’s account like once a week by checking there posts, see the accounts that like there posts to see if they aren’t inappropriate or there followers (look to see any cursing in any recent posts of them, inappropriate pictures, or bio) I usually check myself, making sure that they are a good person. If a bad person follows your kid block them and/or report them. I do this to my account and make sure it is protected, because my mom told me to be safe on any social apps she monitors. Since I know cyber bullying and other bad people in school, I also check my friends posts and her linked account and block them or tell my friend to block them. I only follow people I know or friends with, and follow people I like on YouTube. This will also keep your kid safe.

    Tip: If your kid is on YouTube and has an account (like me) go on to his/her account and on the bottom of the screen it will say “Restricted Mode” and turn it on so he/she won’t find inappropriate videos. Be sure to check their subscriber list and watch one of there videos and unsubscribe for them if they are bad in your preference, and check there history and delete it because the history list will know what YouTube will wanna Recommend. On the recommend list delete videos you do not like so YouTube will know not to show those video recommend.

    • Mango says

      I also recommend change there name in google plus to a nickname. As I did I din’t put my real name in my comments and put my nickname to keep your kid safe

    • Jean says

      Hi Mango, it sounds like you are making good decisions on your social media use! I hope you are a role model to your friends (even if you are a bit young for Instagram!)

      • Mango says

        Thanks. I know how dangerous the internet is. I was one of the kids in my class to not have an Instagram until I decided to last month.

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