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How to Protect Kids on Instagram

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The Heritage Foundation gives Instagram a child safety rating of C.

Safety Rating Explanation: As it has done with Facebook, Meta has created new parental supervision features within Instagram that allow a more curated experience. However, the type of content that remains accessible on Instagram, even with these features implemented, should be carefully considered by parents before they let their child create an account on the platform.

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is a social networking service that allows users to share photos and videos with their followers.

What Are Instagram’s Main Features?


Instagram users have a profile from which they can share photos and videos. Users can follow one another to see these posts in their own Instagram feed and see updates from one another. Depending on whether an account is public or private, posts, reels, and other content may or may not be visible to all Instagram users.

Feed and Explore

An Instagram Feed is the stream of posts from accounts that the user follows. The Explore page, by contrast, suggests new content based on your interests, allowing you to discover posts, photos, and videos from other accounts a user is not yet following.


Instagram Stories are short, temporary posts that users can share with their followers. These posts disappear after 24 hours and can include photos, videos, and text overlays, providing a way to share moments that don’t stay on a profile permanently. Note: All story posts can be screenshotted or recorded, making them permanent.


Instagram Reels are short and usually informal videos that users can make and share with others. They typically include music, special effects, and other quick edits, allowing users to showcase creativity and entertain their audience.

Direct Messages

Instagram users can send Direct Messages (DMs) and hold one-on-one or group conversations. Typically, Instagram users can receive DMs from anyone that they follow, but these settings are adjustable. Instagram gives users the option to configure their settings to make messages auto-delete after a user-defined timeframe, a characteristic that inherently complicates parental oversight of direct messaging.

What Can My Child View on Instagram?

Instagram is notorious for having negative effects on users’ mental and physical well-being, particularly young girls. Its user interface is known to foster addictive patterns of behavior. Although Instagram’s content guidelines prohibit nudity, certain revealing and nearly explicit visuals are still permitted. Although the option to set an Instagram account as private exists, this precaution doesn’t guarantee that the profile will be safe from unwanted viewing. Moreover, this setting doesn’t prevent a child from following other users on the platform, meaning that the child could still stumble across inappropriate content. It is also important to note that the direct messaging feature opens the avenue for strangers to initiate contact and share virtually any kind of content with the user.

How Can I Keep Track of My Child’s Activity on Instagram?

Instagram has recently emphasized its new default settings for young people. Users under the age of 16 are given private accounts upon registering for the platform, and advertisers are limited in targeting ads toward teens. Parents should use the “Supervision” feature in Instagram settings to view how much time their teens are spending on social media, set time limits and scheduled breaks to minimize usage, and receive updates about accounts their teens are following and being followed by. To prevent inappropriate Direct Messages, parents can also adjust settings under the “Messages” tab of the account’s privacy settings.

How to Select Privacy Settings in Instagram

  1. Open the Instagram app or website in your browser.
  2. Under “Settings and privacy,” make sure that “Private Account” is turned on.
  3. Next, click on “Message and story replies” and then “Message controls.” Turn “Others on Instagram” and “People on Facebook” to “Don’t receive.” Turn “Who can add you to groups” to “Only people you follow on Instagram.”
  4. For parents who have an Instagram account: Go to the “Supervision” tab and invite your child’s account to establish the relationship.
  5. Once accepted, parents can adjust Supervision settings as they see fit, including setting time limits, breaks, and reports about what type of content their child is consuming.

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