The time has come. As much as I have resisted our son’s desires to have an Instagram account, he is ready. Just like we did in giving him a cell phone while he was still able to “hear” us as parents, we will do the same with Instagram. While the app can be dangerous, allowing my son to open an Instagram account is an exercise in trust, for all of us. However, just because I’m allowing him to have an Instagram account, doesn’t mean I’m setting him free in the digital space. Instead I’ve put together an Instagram contract for teens that he will need to sign and made sure I am fully informed as a parent on Instagram parental monitoring tips.
Kids today know more about technology than most adults. They’re surrounded by smartphones and tablets, computers and wearable technology. Everyday they learn new things about technology. It’s important for them to understand the responsibilities that come along with living in such a digitally vulnerable world.
Allowing your teen to have an Instagram account will be more successful when used with a printable Instagram contract for teens and tweens. It’s also important that you know some Instagram parental monitoring tips.
Online safety is difficult to achieve. Safety isn’t impossible, just difficult. It can be hard to add Instagram parental monitoring to the long list of things you already do daily. But just like any other list of parenting tips, if you follow the ones that make sense, you’ll be fine. One of the most important tips is to sit down and have a conversation with your teen about the dangers of social media. To help with that conversation, I am sharing the Instagram contract for teens and tweens that we use in our home. This can help jump start the conversation.
This is a single page document that is easy to print and it helps teach kids the dangers of social media as well as standing by their promises. It clearly details, in language they can understand, that if they break the rules, the account will be no longer accessible.
An Instagram account contract is more than just saying “do this or you can’t have Instagram” it’s a useful tool for building a strong and trusting relationship with you kids. This contract makes it easy for kids to see what is expected of them!
Instagram Parental Monitoring Tips
Now that you have a contract in place, it’s important to know some tips to help you monitor your child’s Instagram account.
Instagram helps set the proper age limit so you don’t have to be the bad guy. Currently, the age limit is 13 years old. That means Instagram doesn’t allow you to have an account unless you’re 13 years old or older.
Right from go you should be involved in the Instagram account from your teen. First, set-up the account with them or do it yourself from their device.
Instagram has built-in settings that can help keep your teen safe on Instagram. The most important setting is privacy. Make sure you set your teen’s Instagram account to private before handing it over to them.
A geotag is a setting that shows where a picture was taken. Make sure you turn off geo-sharing because no one needs to know where your teen’s photo was taken. This applies even if their followers are friends you approve.
Every Instagram account has settings that allow you to use personal info to get information. There is no need for your teen to use these settings so make sure the profile has no private info.
Know What they Can Find
Instagram is good at blocking inappropriate pictures but sometimes they slip through. Even if your teen searches for something harmless like “Foodie” they may still come across something inappropriate. Open a dialogue that shows it’s OK to talk to you about something they stumbled upon by accident.
Requests for followers will come in from people you or your teen won’t recognize. These requests may be harmless spam accounts. No matter who they are, make sure your teen knows that only you can approve new requests.
Be on the lookout for celebrity accounts. If there isn’t a checkmark by their name, they’re fake, do not allow them to follow.
Set Rules for Postings
Make sure your teen knows that pictures of themselves will be online forever, even if they delete it from their account. Make sure they know what can be posted and what can’t.
Read Them Their Rights
There is a heavy debate going on about what is considered private space as it transfers from the real world to the digital space. Make sure your teen knows that posting pictures of people without their permission is unacceptable.
Should Parents Monitor Instagram – Yes or no?
The answer is yes – a very hard yes. There are many dangers that lurk in the digital world and your teen can be a prime target. Not only can you better spot a fake or someone meaning harm, but just being involved is great.
Earlier, I said that allowing your teen or tween to have an Instagram account is an exercise in trust for everyone. The exercise is that your teen trusts you to keep them safe and monitor their account and you trust them to have this responsibility. Our relationships with our teens and tweens are important and the best relationship is built on trust. In fact, there is a service called UKnowKids that can help ins Instagram parental monitoring as well as all digital activity. Using UKnowKids can help you monitor photos, contacts, messages and more from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. As we enter deeper into the digital age, new tools arise that help parents get the job done right and UKnowKids is one of them. Use UKnowKids in conjunction with the Instagram contract for teens and you’ll be set.