Is Instagram safe for kids?
For the most part Instagram is a harmless platform for kids to share their photos, videos and stories and enjoy the subsequent comments posted underneath. However, studies have shown that Instagram also provides a popular platform for online trolls to post insulting, derogatory and offensive remarks. This is known as ‘cyberbullying’ and its consequences can be really damaging.
Instagram security features
There are plenty of ways you can manipulate Instagram so it protects your child; including the option to block accounts, block commenters, hide offensive comments, create your own manual comment filter, check log-in activity, set up two-factor authentication, take off location tagging and report inappropriate behaviours.
How to set up parental controls on Instagram
Given Instagram’s huge popularity – and the fact it’s free and easy to download for anyone over 13 – it’s important for all parents to understand how to keep your child safe from internet bullies while they’re using it.
Make sure they’re not revealing any personal information that could compromise their safety, including phone number, name of school, home address, etc. It’s also a good idea to remove any geotags – labels that signify their current location – from their posts.
Two-factor authentication helps to secure your child’s account and information. You can do it using your smartphone or a third-party app.
Go to your Profile > Settings > Security > Two-Factor Authentication. Tap the toggle switch next to Authentication App, then tap Set Up Manually. (No toggle switch? Then tap Get Started.)
Tap Copy Key below the Instagram key and paste it into your authentication app, such as Duo Mobile or Google Authenticator. (Remember: Take a screenshot of your key or save it in some other way at this point as you won't be able to access it again once you've finished setting up!)
Once your Instagram account is successfully linked to your authentication app, copy the 6-digit code your authentication app creates. Go back to the Instagram app, tap Next and paste the 6-digit code to complete the process on that device.
If you’ve left yourself logged in on a friend’s computer or are worried a hacker has swiped your Instagram password, you can see if someone else has logged into your account on Instagram in a matter of seconds.
Just got to your Profile > Menu > Settings > Security > Login Activity.
From here you can sign all the places you’re signed in, the devices you’re logged in on and the exact geographical location of said devices.
All profiles on Instagram are ‘public’ by default, meaning all your child’s activity can be seen by everyone who uses the app and web version of Instagram. Going ‘private’ means only people your child has approved can see what they post.
To switch to a ‘Private Profile’, go to your child’s profile by tapping the head and shoulders icon bottom-right, tap the three lines in the top-right, then Settings > Privacy > Account privacy.
You will get the option to ‘Review followers’ when you go private, too.
How to set up message privacy settings on Instagram
If you have messaged someone in the post on Instagram they can see when you are online and active in the app, or they can get an idea of when you were last active as they will see under your name in Direct Messages: “Active 15 minutes ago”.
Disable 'online' status
To turn this function off got to Settings > Activity status and turn off ‘Show activity status’ using the toggle. Job done.
How to share and post content safely on Instagram
Sometimes your child might not be helping themselves when it comes to staying safe and protected on Instagram by the way they are sharing and posting content. Let us explain…
Having an app track your whereabouts is a little creepy and not necessarily the kind of information you want shared about your child on the internet. To turn off your location on Instagram go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Scroll down and tap Instagram and then select Never to turn your location services off.
Abusive and insulting comments can be very hurtful, especially to young minds. Ensure the safety of your child by moderating the comments on their Instagram posts: Visit their profile, tap the three horizontal lines in the top-right, then go to Settings > Privacy > Comments and turn ‘Hide offensive comments’ on. You can ‘Block Comments from’ specific senders from here, too.
You can also moderate who can mention you in their photos and videos on Instagram. Just got to Profile > Settings > Privacy. From here you can adjust your ‘Tag settings’. For example, tap the circle to the right of who can tag you, such as ‘Only People You Follow’ or ‘No One’.
From Privacy you can also access ‘Mentions settings’. For example, tap the circle to the right of who can mention you, such as ‘Only People You Follow’ or ‘No One’.
Another option on Instagram is whether photos or videos you’re tagged in can appear on your timeline or not. Just go to Profile > Settings > Privacy > Tags and tap next to Manually Approve Tags to turn the function on. Now you will have to approve everything that bears your name before it goes live on your timeline.
If someone is behaving inappropriately on your child’s Instagram feed, you can remove them quite easily. What’s more, they will not be notified, which avoids any kind of unnecessary confrontation afterwards. Just tap your child’s profile on the bottom-right ‘head and shoulders’ icon, then ‘Followers’. Find the offending follower and tap ‘Remove’.
How to block, restrict and report accounts on Instagram
Your child doesn’t have to put with any abuse or negativity on Instagram. Just regulate who sees their posts.
If your account is set to Private you can easily remove followers. Just got your Profile > Followers and then tap Remove to the right of the follower you'd like to remove. Then tap Remove again to confirm.
If you deem another account – be it friend, influencer or celebrity – to be promoting inappropriate content, you can easily unfollow them. Just open the profile of the person in question and tap ‘Following’ and then ‘Unfollow’.
You can restrict their account, too. Just open the profile of the person in question, as before, then tap ‘Following’, ‘Restrict’ and ‘Restrict account’.
To block or unblock someone on the Instagram platform just visit their profile tap on iPhone/desktop) or on Android in the top right and then tap Block/Unblock (iPhone/Android) or Block/Unblock this user (desktop). Then tap Block/Unblock again to confirm.
Keep Instagram a safe place for everyone by informing the platform of any inappropriate behaviour by its users. Just open the profile of the person in question, tap the three dots in the top-right corner and then select ‘Report’.
How to disable your child’s account on Instagram
Depending on the severity of your predicament, this is also an option, as is deleting your child’s Instagram account permanently.
However, if your child knows this could be a consequence of disclosing any inappropriate behaviour, they may not confide in you in the first place, so be very careful.
For more information on setting controls across a range of devices, apps and platforms visit Internet Matters