CHILDLINE ADVICE: ‘Ensure account privacy and security settings are robust!’
Our Childline counsellors speak to children every day about their experiences and worries about social media.
With an increasing number of young people using apps like Instagram to share videos and pictures online, it’s to be expected that parents might be concerned about how their children are using the platform.
Some children might create an account to just follow and interact with other people’s accounts, such as friends or popular celebrities.
Like many social media platforms though, it can be easy for users to stumble across inappropriate or adult posts simply because of how the app shows content.
Their accounts can also lead to unwanted contact from strangers, so it’s vital to ensure your child’s account privacy and security settings are as robust as possible.
Thankfully, Instagram has introduced a policy to prevent adults from messaging young people who don’t follow them, so you should make sure your child signs up with the right age and talk to them about who follows them on their account.
We also know that young people might feel pressure to post certain images or videos based on what they're seeing on the app, which could lead them to them experiencing self-esteem and body image issues.
With that in mind, it’s worth reminding children that some users will be applying filters and features to change how they look.
If you also have an Instagram account, you can access parental supervision to help manage how your child uses the app.
This offers a range of tools to help you see how long they are spending on the app and set time limits for their use, and to see which accounts they are following.
Explore the app together, learn how to mute or hide comments and content, and how to block other users, but be sure to talk regularly and openly to your child about how they are using Instagram.
This will help them understand your concerns and make them more comfortable talking to you about anything they’ve experienced online which has upset them.
And remember, they can speak to our counsellors any time on the phone or through the Childline website.