After posting last month about what to do before your child gets Facebook I found that besides Tumblr and Snap Chat, which I know nothing about, Instagram is the new place for kids to hang out.
Instead of written status updates and check ins, square photos are used to show the lives of Instagram users coupled with hashtags to bring more followers in to see what users have to post.
And, if not closely monitored, Instagram can become another place for our kids to learn the hard way about the importance of internet safety. I guess some users post more than just photos of their kids and food. Who knew!
Instagram for Kids: What You Need To Know
1. There is minimum age requirement to have an account –
Just like Facebook, Instagram users must be 13 years or older. And while your child may seem more mature or every other child out there has an Instagram account and they are not yet 13, you as the parent have to make the decision to allow your child to have an Instagram account.
2. Set Limits and Expectations –
Once you've decided to set up an Instagram account for your child, make sure they are aware of the rules you have for using social media outlets. Set limits on what they can or cannot post.
A few moms enforce an “ask before you photograph” rule where their children need to ask permission first if they're taking photos of other people and posting on Instagram. And that includes asking their friends parents as well.
Just as I suggested when setting up a Facebook account for your child, make sure that you set up the account and the password. And monitor what your child is posting. Follow their feed and check to see who is following them as well.
3. Change Your Child's Privacy Settings –
Instagram has the ability to make users accounts private. That means that no one can see that user's content unless the user approves the person first. Since you've set up your child's account, you will receive any notifications of users trying to follow your child.
Reiterate the importance of knowing who's following the account to your child. But with that being said, nothing online should be considered private despite the security settings a person has in place. Make sure your child knows their digital footprint.
Along with keeping your profile private, know that you can also block, report, and flag users as well – all anonymously. If you see any inappropriate activity from someone your child is following, block them so that your child cannot see that user's profile any longer.
4. Utilize Hotspot Shield’s VPN service –
Use a virtual private network (VPN), like Hotspot Shield’s VPN service, to lock down and encrypt the wireless communication shared on your devices and to protect your personal data.
This service will also detect and block any malware in case your child clicks on a bad link while browsing Instagram on their smart phone via WiFi.
Instagram is a great way for kids to capture moments of their lives through photographs to share with family members and friends and can be a great tool when used properly. I have a friend who set up accounts for her young children already simply to tag photos of them and looks at the account like a running picture album for her children to look back on later.
The number one thing to always keep in mind is internet safety and making sure our kids are aware of the importance of the digital footprint we leave behind every time we upload a photo.
Want to learn more about Hotspot Shield? Their free VPN can shield data from hackers on your computer or phone so that your children’s personal information is safe. Connect with Hotspot Shield on Twitter, Facebook and their very ownHotspot Shield blog.