Instagram is one of the world’s most popular social networking apps, with kids and teens globally. They love the way they can apply cool effects to their pictures or videos while creatively making their lives and selves look a little more awesome. And yet, it’s the instant feedback they receive from their followers such as flattering comments or ‘Likes’ which can make them feel good about themselves to disrespectful and mean comments which can be hurtful and sometimes be part of a cyberbullying campaign by their peers. This is why it’s so important the Instagram privacy settings are changed from the default which is public and may also contain location data, to private.
Over time, kids have used the platform to create alternative accounts that they call ‘Finstagrams’ [fake + Instagram] in response to feeling they always have to portray themselves as having the perfect life and body. These alternative accounts are more authentic and are generally shared with only close and trusted friends. On the other hand, ‘Rinstagram’ [real] accounts project a more idealised version of themselves; one where perfection is the currency.
What is Instagram and how does it work?
Instagram is a free photo and video sharing application for people aged 13 and older. Users upload images from their device and can share them publicly or privately with their followers. Users can also like and comment on other people’s images.
What is it about Instagram that has my teen so hooked?
Teens love media, socialising with it, and sharing it with their friends on their phones. Instagram allows them to edit, enhance and comment on photos and videos seamlessly.
What are the risks associated with Instagram?
Instagram is not an inherently dangerous app and the primary dangers associated with it are characteristic of all social media; exposure to inappropriate content, contact from strangers, and cyberbullying. While certain social media apps, such as anonymous messenger apps or chat rooms, can exacerbate these threats, Instagram does have safety settings in place to minimise risk.
Instagram Safety Tips:
- Use two-factor authentication: To minimise the potential for hacking and defamation, utilise the two-factor authentication security feature. Any time that your child’s Instagram account is accessed from an unknown device, they’ll receive a text message containing a backup code.
- Help your teen set their account to private: Having a private Instagram account will prevent the wider public from being able to view their posts and give them the ability to determine who can follow them.
- Remove geotags & turn off location sharing: Instagram has a location sharing feature that enables users to share the location of a picture. When this setting is enabled, other users can click on the image’s location and the app will identify the spot where the picture was taken. This feature is turned off by default.
- Avoid uploading photos or captions containing personal information: Both young people and parents should avoid sharing images that contain a minor’s personal details, such as full names, private contact information, or even school uniforms that can identify a child’s location. Even with different privacy precautions in place, social media content is fairly easy to download and share.
- Follow them on Instagram: You may want to establish safety stipulations that you and your teen both mutually agree to. For example, you might insist that they have to accept your follow request so that you can see their updates and interactions, but they may ask that you refrain from commenting publicly on their posts.
- Know your audience: Instagram has a built-in feature that enables users to select a specific audience for their posts.
- Block or unfollow: Encourage your teen to block or unfollow people whose posts upset them. Bear in mind that these people may not necessarily be posting anything inappropriate or malicious – it could simply be a friend or celebrity whose online life appears so ‘perfect’ that it makes your teen feel insecure.
How can I report cyberbullying or abuse on Instagram?
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides advice about reporting with Instagram’s built-in flagging feature.
Scroll down to the Instagram FAQs