Cyber Expert Reviewer:
Reviewed on Jul 27, 2021
Instagram is an incredibly popular photo & video sharing platform. Teens setup a profile and post content for their followers to see. In addition to their profile, Instagram also has other popular features such as Stories & Reels. Stories are snapshots of moments that friends and followers can view for up to 24 hours, whereas reels are 15 second videos with more pop culture reference, following dance trends or lip-syncing to songs. Cyber bullying is common on Instagram, as well as Influencers posting the ‘perfect’ pictures of themselves, which isn’t always helpful for young people’s self esteem. Instagram is also used by many teens to send private messages to possible romantic interests, so think teen dating. Like any social media platform, Instagram hosts dark content such as pornography, drug use and violence. A longer in-depth review of this app can be found in the 'Hot Topics' area of this hub or under 'Blogs' below.
Many teenagers will have multiple Instagram accounts, usually unbeknownst to their parents. The second account is usually an account that only a select group of friends will follow, where they can post more relaxed or genuine content. Parents should also note that children are now making a second "meme" account under a nickname to post funny, unfiltered content. This may show them in a negative light and can be inappropriate.
Instagram allows for private messaging (or DMs as young people will call it) between two people, or a group of people. Most teens will chat with people who they don't necessarily know in 'real life', but they are acquaintances. Unfortunately it's common for young people to receive unsolicited messages from strangers that are very explicit in nature. This is why for young children, our experts don't recommend the use of this app.
The good news- Instagram has an option to block nasty words to appear as comments on photos. Teens can turn on 'Comment Filters' in their privacy settings to do this. The bad news- This app is one of the most prolific for cyber bullying, as young people can create polls, setup impersonation or catfishing accounts, start 'burn pages', or post horrible pictures of others and invite cyber bullying comments on these pictures. Instagram has reporting tools built into their platform, and teens should know how to use these in case they are ever on the receiving end of online abuse.
For some young people, Instagram can have a negative impact on their self-esteem. Likes or Followers can be interpreted as a numerical indication of a person's worth. Validation on this platform can lead to more frequent posting or and feelings of sadness. There is an option for users to opt-in/opt-out of viewing the number of likes both themselves and other users receive. For instructions on how to do this head to the 'How to's area below.
Instagram hosts a large number of commercial posts (#ad) that are targeted towards young people. They seem covert because businesses will recruit both celebrities and 'normal' Instagrammers to promote their products.
Instagram is known for their 'Influencers', many of which are people who are pushing a perfect lifestyle or perfect body. For some young people, these types of 'perfect lives' presented to them can result in feelings of inadequacy or jealousy, and even potentially impacting young people's self-esteem. On the flip side though, there are a lot of Influencers who post positive or inspiring content. We encourage young people to curate their feed by following people who are spreading positive messages or who make them feel uplifted.
Instagram recently introduced a feature which allows users to be messaged by and/or message Facebook users (instead of just those on Instagram) so be aware that your child may be able to be contacted by those from the wider internet as well as searched up through Facebook.
Instagram has introduced a shopping component to their app. Businesses can add products to their profiles under the 'shop' tab. Items for sale can also be tagged in images, users can click on the tags to see the items price and to be redirected to purchase the item. The shop items are curated based on who you follow on Instagram, so it is a very targeted feed.
Reels is a new feature to Instagram, and can be described as Instagrams answer to TikTok. Reels are short 15 second videos, with a focus on viral global trends. Unlike Stories (which predominantly feature peoples day to day lives), Reels see people performing for entertainment purposes, to get as many likes as possible. These videos can be shared only with your childs’ followers, or can be made public and shared with the broader Instagram community, in the Explore section. For a more detailed explanation about Reels and what you need to know, follow the link in the ‘Blogs’ area of this page.
Instagram has restricted the option for adults to DM teens who are not following them. This feature was created to help stop teens from receiving messages from unknown adults. When an adult tries to message a teen who doesn’t follow them, they receive a notification that DM’ing isn’t an option. This is a great step for Instagram, but it is still very important that parents and children understand that they play the largest and most crucial role in keeping themselves safe while using this app.
It's vital to remember that even if you don't type in your first and last name in your second account, because our digital footprint is now being tracked by facial recognition, all posts will still be included in your digital footprint.
It's common for users on Instagram to post perfect photos of themselves, filters and all. Always remember that what you see on Instagram is a version of someones 'highlight reel', and not their 'behind the scenes'.
Because you can spend hours flicking through the endless posts on Instagram, it's a great idea to make a 'Close Friends List' so the most important information to you comes up at the top of your feed. After that, everything else can be taken or left.
By turning on the ‘restricted accounts’ setting, you are able to protect yourself from unwanted interactions without having to block or unfollow people you know. This setting will not notify the people that you’ve restricted and other users won’t be able to see what the restricted people comment on your posts.
Under settings, you are able to control whether offensive comments are made to be invisible on your posts. You can turn this filter on which automatically scans and hides such comments. You can also manually choose words to be blocked, if they are to be commented on your posts.
Users should note that Instagram is filled with influencers who flaunt their perfect and flawless lifestyle. This is not always realistic nor does it make them better people and users should not set unnecessary harsh beauty standards upon themselves based on what they see on Instagram.
1. From the home page, click to view your profile in the bottom right-hand corner.
2. Click the three dots in the top right-hand corner.
3. Click on Notifications
4. Click on Posts, stories and comments.
5. Alter settings according to preference