What You Need to Know About Instagram and Your Kids

     It seems there is no end to the march of new apps, websites, and social media services. Instagram is one of the most popular social media services out there. With its recent redesign, additional features, and updated terms & conditions, now is a great time to take (another?) close look at this incredibly popular photo sharing app. 

     Technically, the minimum age to use Instagram (along with many other social media services) is 13. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for a child with a smart phone or tablet to set up an account and fudge on their birthdate. The reality is Instagram isn’t for kids. Here’s a few reasons why:

     Chris McKenna recently blogged on Protect Young Minds. He shares 5 hidden dangers in Instagram. The scariest to me is the fact that the photos on instagram are not filtered in anyway whatsoever. It only takes a child a few minutes to understand how hashtag (#) searches work, and they can scan Instagram looking for pictures in any topic they want. The absence of parental controls and the easily erasable search history make Instagram dangerous ground for any kid. Chris warns they could easily find something they shouldn’t, and parents may never know.

     This article and video from Craig Gross on iParent.TV delves into similar dangers. He calls out the specific risk that children could directly access pornography through Instagram. While Instagram technically does not allow porn on its service, the workaround that people have found is using misspelled hashtags to represent pornographic images. This is a danger that no parent should take lightly.

Yikes.

     So what do you do with Instagram? First of all, if you have a child under 13, you should hold the line and not let them have an account. Second, after your child is old enough, have a specific conversation with them about the dangers of Instagram.

     Don’t get me wrong, Instagram can be a lot of fun. Camp of Champions USA has our own Instagram account (@cocusa1995), and we love connecting with our summer staff and parents through pictures and videos. But let’s be wise as we parent our kids through this and all social media services.  

     Do you or your child use Instagram? What have you done to protect you and your family from some of the dangers?