In a relatively short period of time (3 years) Instagram has become the hot new online place to be for teens and kids.

Every parent needs to be aware of Instagram. Instagram is an app that makes it very easy upload and share pictures taken with a smartphone. The pictures can be shared on Twitter and Facebook as well.

One problem I have with Instagram is the fact that photos are open to the public by default. Anyone can browse photos posted by others and people that they follow.

Instagram is not fundamentally a bad thing. Like just about anything else in life, it can be used in a positive way or a negative way. The number of derogatory comments attached to photos and inappropriate pictures of children seems to be on the rise. I expect that the number of predators using the site will increase as well as cyber bullying.

It is up to you if you allow your child to use Instagram or not. Before you make that  decision, you should do download the app to your smartphone,  take it for a spin and see what type of photos and comments your child may be exposed to. Talk to your child about your experience.

If you decide to allow them to use Instagram, do the following:

  • Set rules regarding proper conduct in terms of both types of pictures and comments.

  • Make sure they don’t use their real first and last names.

  • Don’t provide any phone numbers.

  • Make them aware that online predators often use fake names and profile photos.

  • Make sure their privacy setting is set so that only people they know have access to their information.

  • Also, it is probably a good idea to make sure they do not accept requests or connect with people they do not have a face-to-face relationship with. I know many people will not follow this advice.

  • Use a secure password.

  • Use an appropriate profile picture

Periodically talk to your child about what they are posting. Go over the rules again and let them know…again, that many people on the Internet are not who they claim to be.

Parents keep your account active on Instagram so you can have a better idea of what’s going on.

Instagram today, who knows what it’ll be tomorrow.

John L. Jones

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