8 tips to keep kids safe on Instagram

By:
Aura
5/22/2024
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Whether your kids want to use Instagram, or you want to use the app to keep friends and family updated about your day-to-day life, the eight tips in this parents' guide will help make Instagram safe and fun for your whole family.

1. Configure Instagram privacy settings.

The first step to take is to configure your child's Instagram account settings. You can find these settings by visiting their profile page in the mobile app—then tapping on the menu in the top right corner. 

Doing so will open up a list of options. You can customize everything from who follows your kids' accounts to the content you'd like your family to see (and how you'll monitor everything at the same time).

The “privacy” section of Instagram’s account settings is particularly useful. The app makes it easy to limit unwanted interactions (including cyberbullying) by restricting who can:

  • See a profile page and photos
  • Tag an account in a post or Story
  • Leave comments on content
  • Remix a Reels into new content
  • Send direct messages (DMs)

The level to which you restrict your kids' accounts will depend on their age, what you feel is inappropriate content, and how your family approaches social media—but nothing's set in stone; you can adjust these settings at any time. 

2. Keep Instagram profile information to a minimum.

Every Instagram account includes a spot for your real name, profile photo, bio, and other personal information—but you don’t have to fill it out.

Help your kids pick out a generic username, add just their first name or initials, and skip the bio section. You can even set a generic photo as your kids' profile picture—or create a Meta avatar.

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3. Only accept offline friends as followers.

If you set up your kids' Instagram apps to be private accounts, you or they will need to manually approve any follow requests. This way, you can weed out requests from anyone you don’t know. 

And whether you decide your family will have private accounts or not, curating a follower list made up of only people you and your kids know offline can help you limit interactions with strangers. 

4. Curate the Instagram feed.

Encourage your kids to unfollow anyone who makes them uncomfortable, leaves offensive comments, or shares harmful content—whether it's a friend from class or an influencer they've never met. There's a good chance the person will never know they've been unfollowed. Either way, your kids' mental health and well-being comes first.

And if it's a particular hashtag that's causing your kids distress, low self-esteem, or contributing to a bad body image, go ahead and block it! The process is easy: pull up a post using the hashtag, click on the three dots in the upper right, and select "don't show this hashtag." The Instagram algorithm will start to filter this content out.

5. Set up a “close friends” list.

Let’s say your kids have a wide and sprawling group of family and friends—all of whom they connect with on Instagram. You can further narrow these followers down into a special “close friends” list and:

  • Restrict Instagram Stories to close friends only
  • Limit the interactions non-close friends can have with your account

People on a “close friends” list will be able to tell, as they’ll see stories with a “close friends” label. But anyone you leave off the list will be none the wiser—there’s no way for them to tell.

6. Don’t list a location.

Instagram users have the option to add a location to photo uploads. You can even include it in your Instagram Stories via location “stickers” like this:

Make sure your kids know how these location settings work, and that it displays where they are in real time. Understanding how their location is being tracked is a key part of your kids' safe social media use—especially as they get older!

7. Have regular chats about what your kids are seeing on Instagram.

Keeping lines of communication open with your kids is important, too. Yes, it's possible they'll see something they weren't supposed to, or even seek it out (hey, you were a teenager or young adult with dial-up and curiosity once, right?) 

But if they know that you're always available to help them work through anything that's made them confused or uncomfortable, you can potentially stay more in tune with what your kids are experiencing on Instagram. 

8. Use parental controls.

Lastly, using the parental supervision tools available to you—either Instagram's parental controls, Meta Family Center, or another parental control app—can also help to give you and your kids added peace of mind about their online safety. 

Our full guides to using Instagram and understanding its parental controls can help you make the best decision for your family about what controls to use, when to implement them, and how to keep your kids involved in the process.

Keeping your family's Instagram profile information to a minimum can help protect your privacy, especially if some of you have public Instagram profiles. 

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