How to Make Instagram & Snapchat Safe for Kids

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September 7, 2017

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We sat down with two safety experts so that they could share their advice on how to make Instagram and Snapchat safe for children. Learn how you can teach students to search for themselves online to see what colleges see, how to start a dialog about social media, and more.

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

We sat down with Jolyn Brand, who is a higher education expert, and mother of four, and runs Brand College Consulting. Alongside Jolyn Brand, we sat down with Dr. Mike Bishop who is the Founder of Summerland Camps, so they can share their advice on how to make Instagram and Snapchat safe for children.

Listen along on our podcast

Key takeaways on how to make Instagram and Snapchat safe for students

  • On the off chance that you need to change your kid, begin with changing yourself
  • As parents, focus on building intrinsic motivation for your children
  • Exposing younger students to college visits lets them imagine themselves on college grounds which can be enormously beneficial for goal setting

How can parents and students look at themselves online so that they can see what other people see?

Tell students right before they apply to colleges (before senior year), that you’re going to google them. This helps you see exactly what colleges might see when they search for your students online. Encourage students to logout, Google themselves, check what other people that aren't their friends can see. Have students scroll down and check videos that they thought were funny but from an outsider's view, might not look so nice. Urge students to delete those video results now before they apply to colleges and make their online presence a little more professional and nice to others. –Jolyn Brand, College Consultant

How can parents talk to their kids about Snapchat?

Parents need to take a two pronged approach. We need to set up a proper structure where we can go back and check on posts. Sit down with your child and help them understand how this post is going to come across to people. Regularly have them question if they saw a friend post this how would that make them feel. There is a wealth of information when your child posts something online. Parents can see what their children are thinking, feeling, insecurities, and anxieties by looking at the posts that they make on social media. Monitoring your children’s social media activities can be the perfect opportunity to segue into a conversation with them about what's going on. –Dr. Mike Bishop, Summerland Camps

What are some common misconceptions about social media?

Pertaining to social media, parents think that their kids are safe because they are associated online with other children from their school. If that is what their kids told them, some parents will stop monitoring their children’s social media activity. However, some kids become friends on social media with someone because they have a lot of mutual friends. They are not sure whether or not it is an actual kid, if it is in the same area, and if they are taking information from them. –Jolyn Brand, College Consultant

One of the major misconceptions that I found speaking with parents that are interested in the Summerland Camp program, is that they went into this with the kind of authoritarian viewpoint. They set up rigid structures and put limits on for their kids on technology. Kids nowadays can figure out a way to get around restrictions. Parents should instead focus on building intrinsic motivation. Teach your children to post appropriately, limit their electronic use, and use electronics appropriately. Implement this mindset by asking what if questions to your child like, "What if someone saw this post and might have taken it the wrong way?".Also discuss the amount of time your children are spending online. Pew Research Center showed that 92% of teens are going online daily. Talk to your kids about their long term goals and how those fit in with spending 6 hrs a day on Facebook. Ask them if these two goals are mutually congruent. –Dr. Mike Bishop, Summerland Camps

How can parents and students shine online?

Send younger students to college visits even if you think it is too early. Having the ability to picture themselves on campus is a huge goal-setting benefit. When students post content of themselves in videos, photos, and silly, slang names it will show up when people google their email address or full names.Have students double check to see if what they post is a positive representation of themselves that they are proud to show to colleges, or if their online presence is presented differently. –Jolyn Brand, College Consultant

What is your best tip for parents?

If you want to change your child start with changing yourself. If you don't want your child to text while they're driving, stop doing it. If you don't want your child to be on electronics during family conversations, stop bringing your phone to dinner. It has to start with you. The last thing I would say, if your child relies on you as a parent to turn off their device at the end of the day or the end of the weekend, your kids in trouble. You have got to change that. If the only way that your kids turn off their device is you telling them, they will have a disastrous freshman year of college. –Dr. Mike Bishop, Summerland Camps

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