Nearly three out of every four teens now uses Instagram. It’s a great space for students to connect and show off their creativity, but students can also run into some trouble on the popular app if they aren’t taught to safely use it. Keeping a healthy dialogue open with kids about social media safety is more important for parents than any parental control software available. As parents and educators, it’s important that we promote communication and lead by example. However, sometimes this is easier said than done.
Smart Social created this Instagram App Guide for parents and educators. We also asked some parents and social media experts to share their best tips for parents who want to discuss Instagram safety with their children.
Keep communication open and set boundaries
As a former teacher and parent of a teenager, Instagram is a topic I’m very familiar with. In grades as low as 5th, we saw incidents of Instagram posts leading to trouble. It’s difficult to handle as a parent due to the prevalence of social media use. The way we handled it seems to have worked pretty well. First of all, when you first get your child a smartphone, make sure to set limits. Ensure that they understand that you’ll be keeping an eye on what they’re doing, and reinforce responsible social media use from the beginning.
Keep communication open, and set boundaries when they’re ready for social media. Ensure that their Instagram accounts are private, and ensure that you follow them on Instagram with your own account so you can see what’s going on. Now, you have to tread a thin line. You don’t want to be overbearing and discuss every single picture they post. But keep track and discuss what’s appropriate and what’s not. Like anything else, it’s all about parent involvement.
Make your students the expert and have them teach you
As parents and educators, you want to empower your students to become good digital citizens to protect them from cyberbullying, child predators and other physical or emotional dangers. You also want your kids to always remember that what they share online can have a huge impact on their reputation – now and in the future.
I always recommend closely monitoring your student’s Instagram activity and also encouraging your kids to teach you about the latest updates and social media trends. This can help keep an open dialogue and show that you have a genuine interest in what they are doing on Instagram, rather than just checking up on them. It’s also important to remind them they can always come to you or a trusted adult if they run into any problems or uncomfortable situations on social media.
Empower students by making them aware of online threats
Gurpreet Juneja, Top Daycare Centers
Communication is the foundation to all digital safety, even on Instagram. From my experience of being an educator, and a mother of an 8-year-old and a 14-year-old, building a solid relationship with kids is the first step to establishing and implement safety protocols. In today’s digital world it is impossible to keep our kids away from technology, but by making them aware of the online threats, we as educators can empower them. By explaining the need, and purpose for installing a safe digital monitoring software, trust can be established making parent control software easily acceptable.
Monitor your student’s Instagram activity
As wonderful as social media is, it is also equally dangerous for young eyes who may stumble upon something that is not age appropriate. Instagram, with its heavy reliance on visual content, is particularly risky for young eyes. For young children, parents should monitor what their child is looking at on Instagram. Third party monitoring software, such as Bark, can be used to view what your child looks at, comments on, and likes on Instagram. Making your child’s Instagram account private also makes sure that they can monitor who wants to follow him/her.
Most importantly, encourage your children to always come to you if they experience anything or anyone uncomfortable online. Let them know they can always talk to you if Instagram leads them to feelings of insecurity or sadness.
Become an Instagram insider today by taking Smart Social’s Instagram Safety Course. Follow along as Smart Social Founder Josh Ochs simplifies how your kids are using some parts of Instagram to privately chat with friends and strangers: