Instagram Safety Tips For Parents

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Photo: Westend61 / Getty

Teenagers seem to love Instagram more than just about any other age group. This photo-centric social network seems to thrive by catering to everyone’s inner-narcissist. Unlike Facebook, Instagram seems to focus on pure aesthetics, it’s all about the picture, the filter, or not having a filter.

If your child is part of the selfie generation and has a large Instagram following. they might feel like they are some kind of a rock star.

Unfortunately, the trap is that to stay popular or gain popularity, a lot of Instragrammers will start pushing the envelope with their picture content, whether it be photos of themselves or others.

The other thing that should rightly concern parents is that, like Twitter, there are Instagram “followers”. Followers on Instagram are a little higher on the creepy level in my opinion because they are following a stream of pictures of your child's life. That’s just inherently creepy to know that random strangers are interested in looking at pictures of your kids.

Here Are Some Instagram Safety Tips to Help You Keep Your Kids Safe

1. Have Them Purge Unknowns From Their Followers List:

No one wants to be the bad guy but sometimes you just have to be in order to protect your kids. Instagram has 'followers' similar to Twitter. Anyone on Instagram can potentially see pictures/videos that your child posts unless your child is using private account mode and is using its provided access restrictions.

You need to make it a condition of use that you be allowed to periodically review your child's Instagram follower list and ask them questions such as:

  • Who is this person following you?
  • How do you know them?

If the answers are "I don't know them" and "I've never met them" then you should have them removed them from their followers list.

Your kids may argue that their follower stats are a measure of popularity and that they don't want to lower their stats, thus becoming less popular. You need to explain that unknown followers seeing their private photos are not a risk that is acceptable to you regardless of popularity.

Review this list with them often and remove people who have no connection or aren't age-appropriate friends.

2. Have Them Enable "Private Account" Mode

Instagram's Private Account mode makes it so that only people you approve as followers can follow you. So instead of the whole world having access to everything your child posts, they can choose who they want to be able to follow them. As their parent, this should be a setting that you mandate they set. It should help to cut down on the number of random creepy followers that seem to accumulate over time.

3. Get Their Pictures Off The Instagram Map (Remove Geotags)

Instagram has a map that may show where your child's pictures were taken.  It does this based on the geotagged photo capability of their smartphone. Stalkers Love Geotags, which is why you are probably going to want your kids to remove their geotagged locations. Check out this article on How to Remove Your Geotags From The Instagram Map for full details on how to perform this process.

4. Prevent Future Location Sharing

In order to turn off Instagram's ability to geotag future photos, you need to disable its access to your child's phone's location services. For iOS-based devices go the Settings app, choose "Privacy"  > "Location Services" > "Instagram" and then select "Never" under the "Allow Location Access" section. For Android-based phones, check the ​Instagram help site for information on disabling geotags.

5. Don't Let Them Post Personal Info on Their Instagram Profile

Check out the information on their Instagram profile. Instagram allows you to list personal information such as your real name and phone number.

Make sure they don't have anything in their profile that would allow someone to contact them directly or learn their whereabouts.