Social media icons

Instagram is one of the most widely used social media apps among preteens and teens today. It is as popular as Snapchat and preferred over Facebook by younger users. It is a huge part of the social media landscape and there are two important things every parent should know:

  1. HOW TO SET YOUR CHILD’S INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT TO PRIVATE
  2.  WHAT KINDS OF INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE TO YOUR CHILD ON INSTAGRAM

Instagram is a free online social networking site that allows users to share moments and experiences through pictures. Surveys suggest that at least  75%  of teens and preteens actively snap and post photos, often multiple times each day.

Instagram is user-friendly, posting and viewing are quick, and the app itself is much less cumbersome than Facebook. Wordy narratives are replaced with simple hashtags and photos posted are often artsy, clever and unique.

The user can edit pictures using various filters, they can tag people in the photos, and they can share their exact location when the shot was taken.  As fun as this is, the real-time sharing of information and location present obvious concerns. Understanding privacy settings and knowing how to change them is necessary in order to keep your child’s personal information and location from strangers and online predators.

Once you open an Instagram account, the pre-set privacy setting is “public” which means that anyone can access your child’s information, pictures, profile information, other screen names, and yes, your child’s exact location at the time he or she posts a picture.

How To Adjust Instagram Privacy Setting

Switching to “private” from “public” means that only those people you allow to “follow” you will have access to your information. It is also important to discuss the meaning of “friends” in the world of social media with your child. Not every person who requests to follow you is a friend, but the pressure to have massive numbers of followers often clouds decision making and can lead to problems.

To set your account to private via the Instagram app:

Go to your profile, tap the icon in the top right corner and then turn on the Private Account Setting.

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Understanding what information is available to your son or daughter on Instagram is also important.

If you are a parent who is easily offended or easily shocked, scroll down now and skip the next 5 sentences.  

Otherwise, grab your phone, click the Instagram icon, and hit the search button on the bottom left of the screen and type the following into that search key:  “Porn”

Regain your composure, take a deep breath and let’s make this example real.

Your 12-year-old son knows what sex is, he has probably heard of pornography before and he is at the age of normal sexual curiosity.  Let’s say his curiosity gets the best of him and he attempts to find out more by searching “porn” on his Instagram app. He sees exactly what you just saw, and worse, you have no idea and consequently no opportunity to have a discussion about it.

Smart parenting tools like Social Judo allow you, as the parent to either block searches with keywords, like porn, or to alert you, in real time, to your child’s online searches.

Parents need this tool in order to teach, guide, and protect. Being able to ask any question or to satisfy any curiosity with the touch of a button has to power undermine and limit the teachable moments that used to belong primarily to you, Mom and Dad.

Ask yourselves, where do you want your child to first learn about sex, love, religion, homosexuality or drugs? I am guessing you might like the first crack at topics like these.