Is Instagram a safe app for your family?

By:
Aura
5/22/2024
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Remember that time when you were a kid and you swore your parents wouldn't let you (insert video game / go to concert / see movie) because they "just didn't understand?" 

In retrospect, you can probably see that they did understand—and they just felt it wasn't appropriate for you. And you might be feeling some of those same concerns around your kids and social media platforms like Instagram.

But this time, you can be 100% confident that the parent in the situation does understand why the kids are asking for something specific, like using Instagram. That's because you're the parent now, and we're going to break down everything you need to know about the popular photo-sharing app.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is, at its core, a way to share photos and videos. You can view:

  • Professional photos
  • Family members' personal pics 
  • Influencer tutorials
  • Short videos called Instagram Reels
  • Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours
  • Live videos

And, because the app is owned by Meta (the same company behind Facebook and WhatsApp), it also has a pretty solid direct messaging system. 

Kids as young as 13 can use Instagram, and many do. That said, Instagram is most popular with people in the 18-to-34 age range—so it could be a good way for your whole household to stay in touch with other family members.

How does Instagram work?

You can use Instagram through a mobile app for iOS and Android, or in your browser. Regardless of where you log into your Instagram account, you’re always presented with a running list of photos and videos—this is called the Instagram feed.

The Instagram feed and its algorithm.

Initially, your feed will be filled with content from popular accounts. As you find other Instagram users you know, or influencers you like, on the app, you can follow them from their profile pages. 

You can even follow specific topics you like by following hashtags, which are located at the bottom of Instagram posts. As you follow more people and topics, you'll see different content in your feed.

Is Instagram safe to use?

While you can opt to only follow people you know in the real world on Instagram, the social network’s algorithm will still show you content from other users. This can expose you, or your kids, to content that you don’t want to see.

And, unless you take the time to configure Instagram’s direct messages settings, you may find that you and your family’s inboxes are open to anyone on the app.

How to stay safe on Instagram.

Luckily, Instagram does offer a number of safety features for all users, including parental controls.

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In order to use all of the available parental controls, though, you'll need to set up the Meta Family Center. This is a tool that lets you monitor your kids' Instagram activity to make sure that they're staying safe. Remember to talk to your kids about staying safe online, too—and make sure they know that they can always come to you if they encounter something that makes them uncomfortable.

Check out our 8 tips to keep kids safe on Instagram to learn more about how these features can help your whole family socialize safely.

In order to stay safe on the app, you'll want to take full advantage of security features, including restricting who can follow you or your kids, removing location tags on posts, and limiting the personal information included in your bio. 

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