Social networks, apps and games
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Instagram

Instagram is a picture and video sharing app. Users can post content on their profile grid or to their stories, which last 24 hours. You can follow your friends, family, celebrities and companies on Instagram. Instagram also has a live streaming feature.

13+

Official age rating

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Our safety ratings

Overall safety rating:

Our overall rating for Instagram

Average

We don’t think this app is suitable for anyone under the age of 13. With a public account you can easily communicate with other users and your child could be at risk of talking to someone they don’t know.

It’s also easy to come across images or videos that might not be appropriate for their age group or that they find worrying or upsetting.

Safety features

Instagram has a selection of tips and advice for parents, including information on what the platform is, privacy and safety, and reporting.

Privacy & location

Instagram accounts can be set to private so only people who follow you can see your posts. You have to approve all follow requests.

Instagram also has a function that lets you restrict who can comment on your posts or turn off comments completely.

The app’s default setting for location sharing is off but you should always double check this in settings.

Reporting & blocking

To block another account or report images, videos or comments that are upsetting, you just need to click on the three dots in the top right hand corner.

Content

Instagram has built in features that automatically remove offensive words and comments. There is also an option to add your own list of words that you don’t want to appear.

Many children will use Instagram to follow their favourite influencers, celebrities or other accounts they find interesting. This means it’s hard to control the sorts of content they’re seeing which means they might still come across something they find upsetting or that you don’t want to them to see.

O2 Guru top tip

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On Instagram privacy settings

In settings, show your child how to make their account private and switch off location sharing.

Top tips for staying safe

Sitting down with your child and exploring their favourite app or game is a great way for you to learn more about what they like to do online.

You can ask them why they like to use an app or play certain games, as well as who they’re talking to and what sorts of things they’re sharing.

You can also read our Net Aware reviews for tips on how to keep kids safe on popular apps, sites and games.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

• personal information, like names, phone numbers, links to other social media accounts or their school
• other people's personal information
• links to join private group chats
• photos of themselves
• photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

Remind them that if someone starts asking them other questions or suggests they speak using another messaging platform they should come and tell you.

Instagram has several different ways you can create and share content with your followers:

Stories

Instagram stories let you share images and video clips to your profile in a slideshow format. They automatically disappear after 24 hours.

People can only comment or react to a story privately through direct message.

If you have a public account stories can be watched by anyone who goes onto your profile.

Reels
Instagram Reels lets you record and add effects or music to short 15 second video clips to share with your close friends and followers, a bit like TikTok.

You can access the feature directly through the Instagram app by swiping left on the homepage and selecting ‘Reels’. Once you’ve added a video to Instagram it will appear on your profile under ‘Reels’.

You can also explore and watch other people’s Reels through Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page.

The app also has a livestreaming function where you can ‘go live’ and speak directly to your followers.

 

 

It’s easy to change your profile to private on Instagram. This means only people you’ve approved will be able to see what you post on your grid and stories.

Instagram has guidance on how to change privacy settings.

You can explore these with your child and decide which ones are appropriate for you and your family.

Your child might see something upsetting or negative on Instagram. If this happens, they might want to report, block or restrict content or another user. Explore these features together to make sure you're both confident about when and how to use them. 

Reporting

Instagram has specific guidance on how to report inappropriate content, including posts and profiles. 

Blocking

You can block other users on Instagram or stop people from commenting on your photos and videos. 

Restricting

You can restrict other people on Instagram. This means they won't be able to see when you're online or if you've read their messages. If you restrict someone, their comments on your posts will also only be visible to them, unless you tap 'see comment'. You can approve comments if you'd like other people to see them, or you can delete or ignore them. 

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online.

If an account is private, then videos or images shared on Instagram can only be seen by followers. Your child’s followers will most likely be made up of friends and people they know from other offline activities. But sometimes kids might let friends of friends or other people they don’t know follow them.

Set some rules with your child about who can follow them on the app and show them how to ignore follow requests from people they don’t know. You could also show them how to remove followers if they already have accepted requests.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

What children and parents are saying about Instagram

We've spoken to over 2,000 parents and kids to find out what they think.

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Kids

What do children and young people dislike about Instagram?

• People you don’t know can comment on your posts, message you or follow you
• Sometimes you can see upsetting or inappropriate posts
• People write mean or bullying comments on your posts

I like that you can use it to communicate with friends and family. You do get some rude or distressing content posted on Instagram but you can report it immediately. Instagram always responds to what you've reported and tells you if what you reported was removed.

Girl, 14

What do children and young people like about Instagram?

• It’s a fun way to see what your friends, family and celebrities are up to.
• It’s easy to communicate with your friends
• You can follow pages with things you’re interested in
• Posting photos and videos in a creative way

I like the ability to easily be able to message friends and family, send them videos and pictures and more. You can easily post a comment or picture of yourself on your profile that anyone who looks on your profile (whether they're following you or not) can see.

Girl, 14

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Parents

We asked parents about the following areas of Instagram:

Signing up

A little too easy I would say. I entered an old email address and then I was allowed immediate access, no confirming email, no security codes or anything. I did not have to enter my DOB or confirm my age at any point.

Father of three

It is too easy to sign up for multiple accounts which can then be used for trolling or bullying.

Dad of a 17 year old

Reporting

Overall, parents thought it was easy to report unsuitable content and behaviour, and block people from contacting you.

I have reported inappropriate content before which is easy to do and was responded to quickly.

Mum of 14 and 17 year olds

Privacy settings

Most parents thought it was easy to change the settings so that your profile, account and location are private.

Fairly easy but you have to search through settings. It would be easier if it had its own security section at the top of the settings menu.

Father of three

I could not turn off location services on the app, but can do it using settings on my iPhone.

Mum of 15 and 17 year olds

Safety and support

You can find it if you hunt but it is not easily accessible.

Mum of a 9 year old boy

The advice needs to be more easily accessible in an easy to read format.

Dad of three

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