Instagram for kids: updates, potential risks, parental controls

App Store dubs it “tobacco, mild alcohol, drug, adult themes, profane and gross humor, sexual materials and nudity” and rates it 12+. But Instagram has to comply with the Child Online Privacy Protection Act. The latter stipulates the age of 13 as legal for using such service.

However, underage children create easily accounts here. They socialize like adults and face the same content. Are there any Instagram parental controls? Or, it’s up to parents to regulate? Let’s find out the gist of Instagram, risks it hides for children, and possible ways out for guardians.

What parents should know about Instagram

Children and adults are equal in their possibilities on Instagram. But both categories are being influenced differently. To prevent related risks and protect children, parents should know the whole spectrum of possibilities it offers to customers. Especially it makes sense in conditions that Instagram parental controls are limited.

  • 4-way group video chat:

It allows up to four persons to group video call together via Instagram Direct. That way, an average time on Instagram increased from 29 minutes per day to 55. Would it be beckoning for your child, provided Instagram parental controls are restricted?

  • images, photos, videos:

They can depict sexually explicit and porn content and meantime be uncovered by filters. Pornographers knew how to shade pornography to avoid the detection by AI. Thus, Instagram parental controls cannot prevent it as well.

  • Hashtags are vague to control:

The feature has already initiated a significant number of themes on Instagram. Lots of them are aimed to troll people. Furthermore, they are not filtered by Instagram parental controls. Specific hashtags and emojis are tailored particularly for finding porn content.

  • Live videos and messages:

Although they disappear, but tech-savvy users know how to save them. A reckless teen can send an inappropriate photo and reap bullying and threats. The conclusion is definite: Instagram parental controls solve nothing here.

  • Photo geo-location is on:

If the default setting on Instagram photo is turned on, then it’s easy to identify the snap’s location. With a few of such photos, it’s possible to conclude some regularities of the kid’s regular visits.

  • Additional app inserted:

Instagram redirects to Tumblr. It is not filtered in terms of porn material. With about 300 employees, its team cannot check every post unless someone reports profanity. Moreover, Instagram parental controls are not imposed to Tumblr at all.

  • Instagram TV:

A newly released feature is designed to compete with YouTube and draw its users. There are no Instagram parents controls for TV. It makes any kind of content accessible to young people. This significant Instagram update needs more attention.

What parents need to know about IGTV

Users are allowed to upload 60+ second videos. At present, there are no ads. Videos are vertical. This is why it gained such a big growth for a couple of months. For the record, App Store gave it the same evaluation as it did to Instagram in general. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any Instagram parental controls.

By clicking the IGTV icon on Instagram, a user is immediately transported to it, even if the relevant app is not installed. The service has already recommended videos that later was considered as child exploitation and genital mutilation. Two videos with young girls were already reported to the police. It took five days for Instagram to remove them. In a nutshell, IGTV and Instagram are not subject to ignore by parents, especially when Instagram parental controls do not work properly.

How to help kids stay safe on Instagram

The US law on the Internet regulation anticipates two mechanisms: self-regulatory and co-regulatory. It means that both the State and parents are responsible for creating a safe Internet environment for children. Meantime, it emphasizes the parents’ primary role in managing kids’ online experience. Considering the fact that there are no Instagram parental controls, here’s how parents can do it with Instagram.

  1. Have a talk on the ethical side of online exposure.
  2. Discuss and set clear rules about time to spend on Instagram, the nature of content to post, etc.
  3. Configure available settings: turn off the location, make the account private, keep personal data closed, etc.
  4. Block harassing followers.
  5. Teach to report when they notice suspicious people.
  6. Use tracking app which allows to monitor Instagram Direct and block its app on the child’s device.

Bottom line

Parents cannot forbid Instagram nor isolate a child from the Internet. Unfortunately, Instagram parental controls are not powerful either. But it’s up to parents to make an online experience as safe as possible. This is where awareness and assistive technology is a win-win combination.