Should your kids be using Instagram?


QMy daughter wants to join Instagram. She says it’s like Facebook. True?

A Instagram is an instant photo-sharing program that allows users to take a picture, apply a cool-looking filter to the photo and then share it instantly with friends. Like Facebook, Instagram is a type of social network-users can follow each other, see the photo feeds of those they follow and identify (or “like”) favorite photos and add comments to photos.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, so it is no wonder that Instagram is the hottest photo-sharing social network app among teens and the twenty-something crowd.

Like all social networks, there are community rules and requirements, privacy considerations and concerns about postings. Try it out yourself first. Then touch on these important social network topics when discussing Instagram with your daughter.

  • Be honest about age. In the same form as Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks, the required age for Instagram users is 13. This standard is in place due to the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, which forbids companies to collect private information from children under 13. There is no age verification-most social networks work on the honor system-however you’ll send a strong message if require your child to respect the rules.
  • Review rules. It’s easy to get caught up in the photo-snapping frenzy, however, a quick review of rules and guidelines can help minimize problems later. Visit Instagram’s FAQ page and remind your kids to think twice before taking photos or making comments that bully, embarrass or slander. Remind them that photos online can be copied, forwarded and printed out in just seconds of posting-even if they are deleted later on. Thoughtful posting is critical.
  • Go private. Instagram uses a “follower” model, which means that if your profile is public, anyone can follow you on Instagram. There is, however, a private option where users must approve anyone who wants to follow them before their photos can be seen. Parents of young teens should encourage them to use the privacy setting and discourage them from allowing strangers to follow them on Instagram.


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