Instagram is extremely popular and one of the biggest social media platforms. Teens are obsessed with this free online platform because Instagram allows them to share photos and videos, be informed about what’s new and trendy, create interesting content, use different filters, connect and communicate with friends worldwide
But should a 13-year-old have Instagram?
Well, Instagram lets 13-year-olds use it, parents should stick to their instincts and determine whether their child is mature enough for Instagram. After all, kids need to get permission to create an account.
Reasons Why Parents May Be Hesitant to Allow Instagram
Parents often worry about what their kids might post online, who they follow, and who they message. On the other hand, parents are concerned about online dangers children can encounter on Instagram, such as:
- Inappropriate content;
- Hacker attacks;
- Online predators;
So, if kids are allowed to create an Instagram account, parents must supervise their online activity and use parental control apps for monitoring and control.
Benefits of Instagram for 13-Year-Olds
If you leave the risks of Instagram aside, you can see that the app has a lot of benefits. So, in the following paragraphs, we’ll go over the benefits of Instagram for 13-Year-Olds.
Firstly, 13-year-olds can be shy and introverted, and Instagram allows them to post photos, videos, and stories, show their interests and creativity, and express their feelings.
Moreover, 13-year-olds use Instagram to communicate and connect with friends and family, and make new connections by sharing experiences and thoughts.
Furthermore, 13-Year-Olds can use Instagram as a tool for discovering new cultures, learning about various topics, and getting informed about the latest news and trends. Teens can also use Instagram in other positive ways such as:
- Creating their specialized profile where they can showcase their skills;
- Creating their specialized profile to sell a product;
- Organize and participate in charity events;
Risks of Instagram for 13-Year-Olds
Parents sometimes can be concerned about their 13-year-old’s Instagram account. This is because there are many risks present on Instagram. We’ll cover these risks in the following paragraphs.
· Exposure to Inappropriate Content
13-year-olds can post and receive content that contains violence, aggression, discrimination, and nudity. Exposure to this type of content can be bad for children’s mental development.
· Cyberbullies, Online Predators, and Online Harassment
Instagram can be risky because of dangerous users like online predators and cyberbullies that have the purpose of stalking, harassing, and abusing children.
Exposure to these threats can damage children’s mental health, and victims require parents’ emotional support and sometimes even therapy.
Studies show that about 59% of children have been digitally harassed, and Instagram is a place where cyberbullies and online predators are often found.
Instagram’s Age Policy
Instagram’s age policy requires a minimum age of 13 to create an account. Users under the age of 13 must have their accounts handled by their parents.
This Instagram requirement is determined by a US law called COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) from 1998, which states that it is illegal to handle and keep the personal information of children under the age of 13.
These Instagram requirements can protect children’s safety, security, and integrity. Instagram can ban any accounts that are managed by children under the age of 13.
Alternatives to Instagram for Children
Did you know that a more kid-friendly app like Instagram exists? It’s called Spotlite. This app requires parents to create their children’s profiles and also verify their identity in the process.
It follows all the guidelines set by COPPA, and there are Content Moderators that frequently check the posts and filter out inappropriate content.
On the other hand, children can also use Messenger Kids, which is a great platform that offers children the chance to communicate with their friends and family.
These alternatives to Instagram allow parents to feel safer regarding their children and let them experience social media while feeling secure.
Instagram Privacy and Safety Settings
Instagram lets parents and teens choose and adapt their privacy settings. To access Instagram’s Privacy and Safety settings:
- Tap your profile picture in the bottom right of your screen to access your profile;
- Tap on the three lines in the upper right corner;
- Tap Settings;
- Tap Privacy or Security;
With these settings, parents can choose who follows their child, set limits, make the profile private, and such.
Instagram and Mental Health
Scrolling for hours and hours through Instagram posts can easily cause addiction, especially in children. And excessive Instagram usage can lead to anxiety and depression.
Experts state that people who use social media more have a bigger chance of feeling isolated, depressed, and anxious. So, parents need to set healthy screen time limits when giving children access to social media.
Instagram and School Performance
As we said, children can get addicted to Instagram, and this addiction can lead to lower grades. Expert studies show that there is a link between excessive screen time and lower academic levels.
Therefore, parents must motivate children to be responsible towards school chores from a young age, and install healthy screen time habits. Parents can do this by engaging children in outdoor and family activities.
Instagram and Online Safety
Since there are a lot of users on Instagram, many things might endanger teenagers’ online safety.
To make sure that your child avoids these dangers, like scams and frauds, for example, you can try simulating scenarios with your children at home, and teach them how to handle these threats.
Scams can be easily detected because they will require you to send personal information and promise you huge, even unreal prizes.
According to Instagram’s Age Policy, 13-year-olds can create an account but we, parents, need to teach our teens to protect their profiles, think before posting something, and have appropriate behavior.
It is difficult to monitor 13-year-olds, but parents should never give up. So, check your teen’s account and make sure your child is safe on Instagram.
What should I do if I find inappropriate content on my child’s Instagram account?
You should immediately report the user that shares the content and discuss with your child why that type of content is bad.
Can my child use Instagram if they are under 13?
No. Children under the age of 13 must have their accounts handled by their parents.
How can I monitor my child’s Instagram activity without invading their privacy?
You can use Instagram’s built-in Sensitive Content Control (to access it go to your account screen, tap Settings, and then Account) or you can use third-party parental control apps.
Should I allow my child to have a private or public Instagram account?
Allow your child to have a private account only.
Is it safe for my child to share their location on Instagram?
It’s definitely not safe for your kid to share location on Instagram because of the risk of cyber and real-life attacks.
How can I teach my child to use Instagram in a responsible and healthy way?
Set yourself as an example and promote healthy screen time habits from a young age.