Instagram, a fast and fun way of sharing life with friends, can be a platform for online harassment.

Instagram is one of the most popular social networking apps today. It allows its users to apply effects on their photos and share them on other social media platforms. Another cool feature, which draws a lot of teens, is the instant feedback they can get after posting their photos. The instant gratification they get is like an online “badge of honor”.

However, Instagram is also used as a tool for online harassment and cyberbullying. According to a feature published by,“Despite the limitation of socialization and not providing too many features that make way for cyberbullying, Instagram bullying has become a huge issue recently”. Using nasty hashtags or writing cruel comments on a photo are some of the ways used by online bullies. Famous people and celebrities are also not spared from cyberbullying.

Since teens still need guidance, here is what parents need to know about Instagram.

Why kids and teens love Instagram?

Instagram is a fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. This social imaging site makes it easy to share photos that can be easily shared on other social media sites. It doesn’t just connect users, but it also links to a user’s other social media accounts. Users can socialize in mixed-media conversations which increases their online followers. It’s also free to download on any smart device.

What are the risks of using Instagram?

Instagram also has its own set of risks. Since teens love to share everything, even their current location, they can be a victim of sharing too much information. Instagram warns its users that all the photos uploaded through the app are public by default. Anyone using Instagram or is visiting the site can see a user’s photos. People with bad intentions can leave negative comments or harassing messages on these photos. Also, Instagram can be used as a platform to make online threats.

In Philadelphia, “clown accounts” were created and threatened to blow a number of schools in the area.  Several people, dressed as clowns, were near these schools and shouted threats at the students. The Philly school district worked with authorities to help protect the children and arrest the online bullies.

How should parents talk to their children about Instagram?

Children and teens enjoy using photo-sharing apps, here is a simple parent’s guide to Instagram:

  1. The pictures they post on Instagram is considered public. Teach your kids and teens how to set their account’s Privacy Settings.
  2. Users need to be at least 13 years old when creating an Instagram account. This is in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
  3. Privacy isn’t perfect. They can set their photos’ privacy settings but their bios are public. Discuss with your children what they can write on their Instagram bio.
  4. Each photo or video they post on Instagram will have an impact. Teach them to manage their posts as not to offend others. Their photos, videos, and comments are part of their public image online. Responsible media sharing and posting are essential to their digital reputation.
  5. Remind your child or teen about respecting someone’s privacy. If they want to share a photo with a friend, they should ask permission before they tag someone.
  6. Encourage your child or teen to talk to you about their experiences. If they were bullied or threatened, show your support and help them file a report. Instagram encourages its users to spot and report hate accounts. Visit Instagram’s Community Guidelines to learn more.
  7. If necessary, you may also limit their Instagram use.

Be your children’s guide when it comes to using Instagram. Keeping the lines of communication open will help them become responsible netizens. Visit the MomSecure website for more parenting tips on social media.

Related article: Instagram and Your Kids: 5 Hidden Dangers