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Instagram – Is It Okay for Kids? What Parents Need to Know

| February 8, 2012 | Comments (257)
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In many ways, and without reinventing the wheel, Instagram is changing the way people share photos with each other. The mobile app, which is only available on the iPhone, is steadily growing in popularity among the kid and teen crowds, causing parents to take notice and ask, what exactly is Instagram, and is there anything I should be worried about?

Just like with any social sharing application, there are a few things parents need to know about Instagram and how their teen may be using it, so the Yoursphere for Parents editorial team did the research. But first, what is Instagram?

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing mobile app that’s (currently) only available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can either upload a photo from their device’s library or take a photo right then and there and use Instagram to change the way the photo looks.

The user then has the option to simultaneously upload this photo to a number of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, depending on which ones they sync to their Instagram account. The photo will also be uploaded to the Instagram community where people can like and comment on it.

In many ways, Instagram is a photo-sharing social network on its own. Users have a profile with the option to fill out information such as first and last name, username, birthday, gender, bio, email address and phone number. Popular photos from all over the world are shared under the “Popular” tab, and every user has the option to follow other Instagram users and vice versa.

The idea behind Instagram is simple, really. And they execute it so beautifully. But just like with any social sharing application, there are some privacy and concerning content issues that can ruin the Instagram experience for a family with kids and younger teens.

What Parents Need To Know

Privacy

The only information required when signing up for Instagram is an email address and desired username. Though they ask for a phone number, it’s very clear during sign up that this is optional, so please consider your privacy or your teen’s privacy before entering a phone number here.

The single most important thing to realize is that, by default, anyone can view the photos that you upload to Instagram. In other words, your profile and your photos are publicly viewable unless you tell it otherwise. If you only want your followers to see your photos, then you need to set your profile to private by following these steps:

  1. Go to your profile page (tap the Profile tab)
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the Profile page, where you’ll see a “Photos are private” switch
  3. Toggle the “Photos are private” switch to ON to turn on privacy.

Once you set your profile to private, anyone who wants to see your photos will need to be your friend/follower first, meaning they’ll have to send a request and you’ll have to approve.

Geotagging

During the process of uploading a photo, the geo-location data of the photo you’re uploading can
easily be shared with your followers if you’re not careful. Fortunately, Instagram turns geotagging off by

default, but it’s easy to accidently turn it on.

When uploading a photo, be sure to avoid tapping the button shown in this screenshot. If you do, you can always tap it again to turn it off. This is just something to be aware of as geotagging is a huge risk to you and your teen’s privacy online. You can learn more about how geotagging works, here.

Age-Appropriateness

Instagram is not for children under the age of 13, and in my opinion, not suitable for slightly older teens, either. If you’re 12 years old, there isn’t even a 1999 year to choose when signing up. Instagram has strict Terms of Use and Community Guidelines that make their age requirement clear. Also, there’s an obvious connection between Instagram and other adult-intended social networks like Facebook and Twitter.


Blocking and Reporting Users and Content

While there are tools for reporting/blocking users and inappropriate content, know that people will, and do upload nude photos. In fact, the editorial team found a multitude of bestiality photos in less than one minute when searching for friends. It’s a sad fact, and another commonsense reason that you shouldn’t allow your children to use Instagram. If you are an Instagram user, they provide easy-to-use tools to block or report someone. The steps below show you how:

Blocking a user –

  1. Navigate to their profile page (tap Profile > Search Instagram > Names and usernames, then search for and tap on their username).
  2. Tap the button in the top right corner of the screen (gear icon).
  3. Tap “Block user” to prevent the user from viewing your account.

The same steps can be followed to report a user, in addition to giving a reason why you’re reporting them.

 

Reporting a photo –

  1. Tap the “…” below the photo you would like to report and then “Flag for review”
  2. Select the proper reason for reporting from the list and, if prompted, a short description.

NOTE: All flags are anonymous and go directly to Instagram.

—————————————————————————————————

So, parents, do you use Instagram? Does your teen? If so, have you or they encountered any privacy, bullying or content issues like we did?  As I said at the outset, Instagram does a simple and fantastic job of letting us do some very fun and creative things with our photos. Frankly, in my opinion, it’s a shame that others ruin what should be enjoyed by you and your family.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And remember, there are plenty of apps out there, just like there are plenty of social networks out there that were made FOR your children, and with their privacy in mind. And though it’s a wonderful app that enhances the way we share photos, Instagram is not one of them.

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Category: Privacy, Safety, Tutorials

Comments (257)

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  1. Hopeful person says:

    My friends from my old school have instagram,
    and so do my new friends,and i really want an
    account but my parents dont think its a good
    idea. If i did, i would only post pics of animals
    and sweets and plants. I also want it because i
    feel that i am being forgotten by my old friends,
    and i dont know their email adresses.(i cant vist them
    either).I also enjoy taking pictures. Is it a good idea for me to have an account?

    • Samantha says:

      Well, It might help. You don’t even have to post anything and maybe you could just use it to chat with friends. Also, your parents can create an account and follow you so that they can monitor your access. It’s a good idea to mention that to them. :)
      Best Wishes!

  2. Pig girl says:

    Please comment back my other note
    I need to know

    • Concerned says:

      Pig Girl,
      Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, or that it is age appropriate for you. Instagram requires that you be 13, if they find out you’re not they’ll close your account. If you still want one anyway, talk with your parents, let them look into it and help you decide if its right for you at your age. If they say no, I’d follow their advice, they only want to keep you safe.

  3. Pig girl says:

    I am age 10-12 and I want an Instagram my friends have it and they ask me if I have one I say no I feel left out whenever that happens

    Should I get one?

  4. curious_random_person says:

    I do not personally have an Instagram, but I really want one. All of my friends at school have one and I just wanted to give it a shot. They said if you put your profile on private and accept only your friends request then it is pretty safe. Some people are really smart and could hack into your account and post weird pics, that you would get blamed for. So what I’m trying to say is be careful and you can have a goodtime and be safe.

  5. Joan says:

    Hi–
    The children next door to me have Instagram accounts. They are 8 and 9 years old. They put stuff out their that put them at risk. I reported their accounts to Instagrams, but have no real proof of their age. I sent copies of them being on a 4th and 3rd grade schedule from school. This has been 3 weeks ago. So, I guess you can report but it does no good. I worry about these children, they have poor adult supervision……

    • Samantha says:

      Joan,
      You need to tell these children’s parents what is happening! It may be the only way to keep them safe. If the parents do know and are not putting a stop to it, you really should let a Police Officer know, just in case. Because you never know who’s out there, even if their user name is unicornprettyrainbows123 (or something like that)!!!

  6. Misty W. says:

    I agree with this but think that Instagram is not safe at all. My 14 year old sister was introduced to some very bad things on this site. I believe for you to be able to have one you should be much older than 13 or even 14. I am 24 and just got one 3 or 4 months ago. Please if you are younger than 14 be careful!

    • ........ says:

      i think instagram has its ups and downs i mean come on yes it has much more ups then downs so to me you should be the appropriate age and go through the dangers

      • Oooollllllllllll says:

        I really want instagram because alot of my friends have it. I totally agree with ……says:. It has its ups and downs. I have heard of alot of positive things from instagram and a lot of negetive. but i think that if you only follow a few close friends and no famous people that have fake accounts and if you only let close friends follow you, than you won’t have a problem. i think, Misty W, that your sister was irresponsible with her account and that you just have to be very wise with your account. Also dont just post pictures of yourself. post pictures of pretty cupcakes and things that don’t make you look physically attractive and self-obsessed. i hope this will make your instagram experience a whole lot better and safer.

    • zach says:

      ohhh
      I would love to get instagram but is there a way to not see an inappropriate photo or coment could a word or words be blocked.

  7. Having read this I believed it was really enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself spending a lot of time
    both reading and commenting. But so what, it
    was still worthwhile!

  8. Kid says:

    I don’t have instagram personally, I have not yet asked my parents either, because I think that I’m too young (I am age 11-13, not going to tell my real age).I kinda wanted it when I first heard of it, because all my classmates had Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and all that social networking sites. I felt a little left out, but I then realised, I didn’t really need it. But really, Instagram caught my eye, because you could edit photots, then post them. But really, what not a lot of people have understood, is that you don’t need to post a photo of your face. You could post a drawing, or a beautiful photo of the Statue of Librety if you went to New York (Ran out of ideas xP), so if kids follow those rules, there isn’t really a danger, because they can’t be picked on and cyber bullied, because the bully doesn’t know your age, or gender, so they can’t judge you. To me though, Instagram looks safe :).

  9. Lilly.parkson says:

    I love Instagram!! It’s a great site! It’s like I mini Facebook

  10. JAMILELOVER❤10 says:

    I am 10 and I love Instagram ! It’s a fun place to post quotes and pics-it’s really safe and if you use it very wisely than you won’t have any problems with Instagram!

  11. Lexijamicemorgan123 says:

    I am 14 years old and have a Instagram. I don’t think it is safe for kids under 13 because a lot of people post BAD things and it may contain some overage images younger kids will find disturbing or gross. If you are a tween like 12 then that’s okay because you can handle that stuff. If younger than I wouldn’t recommend Instagram for you and would stick to school work.

  12. brittany says:

    Hello! I’m Brittany and I am 14 years old. So i have a lot of experience with Instagram or as it’s also called , IG. I’ve had it for over a year now, almost two, and let me tell you, most of these comments are inaccurate. For one, in my two years on instagram, yes i have seen inappropriate pictures, but guess what? I basically had to search for them. Tags aren’t exactly very safe.. for example you look in the “thin” or “skinny” tags and you will see A LOT of pictures of girls who use Instagram as an outlet for their problems.. but it can make other people gain these problems. It’s like a trigger. For example, I looked up “thin” once.. and believe it or not, if I didn’t have self control, i would’ve spent all day looking at these terrible pictures of girls with bloody wrists and captions describing their situations. Point is, Instagram is only bad if you make it that way. Personally.. I never go on the “Explore” page, not because its bad, but because i don’t want to. If you make your page private, make sure not to geotag your location, block people you don’t want seeing your profile, and follow the right people, it can be really fun. There’s no way to privately message.. you can only comment back and forth but anyone who can see the photo can see the comments, so really, if you’re a parent wondering if you should allow your child to get an instagram, let them. But monitor it until you feel comfortable enough. Make them understand the dangers out there, and that they really don’t want to get involved with it. Personally, I do think you should follow the thirteen year age rule to sign up. But honestly, if you don’t go looking for trouble on instagram, you won’t find it.

    • Questioner says:

      Question:If you post a picture , will it send to everyone

      • Oooollllllllllll says:

        No it will only send to your friends (the people you have accepted to follow). however if you make yourself public than everyone will be able to see it if they go into your account.

      • isabella says:

        if you have a private account it will only be sent too your followers

    • Kristina says:

      I’m a parent, and this response made me absolutely certain that I will hold off on Instagram for as long as possible. My daughter is responsible and makes good decisions, but she has no need in her life for the type of images you’re describing.

      Instead, we’ll have friends over to hang out and listen to music or go to the beach or go roller skating or eat pizza or make cookies or have BBQs. She can read a book or watch a little TV. We can play board games, go to the movies, go to a park, play on the zipline.

      Kids are curious, and if there are nasty (or sad – those cutting pictures make me want to cry for those girls) pictures it’s human nature to explore them. But part of my job as a mom is to choose what I expose my daughter to….and why a young teen would need access to this is beyond me.

  13. Linsey Albeort says:

    this is stupid instagram is a social network where kids can show pics of their vacation and stuff. its not bad all my friends who are 13 use and love it. just let kids do wot they want

    • Rainslick says:

      It’s not stupid and those seemingly innocent pics from vacation can easily go on a pedophile sharing website…there are plenty of websites where non-nude photos of children are shared…and that geo location tagging that you thought was so cool to show where you went on vacation also shows the soccer field where you are after school most days… So to recap that vacation shot can end up in the hands of a pedophile who could then through geolocation know where to find you, and if you supplied your phone number and email in your set…they have those too. hmmm not stupid that parents aren’t charmed by this.

  14. Kent Morgan says:

    it’s funny that there are sites like this. no one gets up in arms over google providing links to on demand porn. any 8 year old can figure out how to see girly pics and videos online these days, instagram is probably the most inefficient way of doing so.

    • JL Patrick says:

      Thats why I block all sites that are not in the “allowed sites” list under the parental controls on my Mac. Terrible things that no 8 year old should see can come up under a seemingly innocuous google search.

      If you had a child, I’m guessing you’d know these things and perhaps have a bit more grace for the concerns expressed here.

  15. Elvis says:

    Ah, instagram. Such a great and free app. Now, I have seen things way more disturbing at my school, as a fifth grader. Me and my fellow classmates have taken “family life” classes, and I was surprised when we were introduced to the male and female reproductive systems. I have not seen anything as disturbing and disgusting as what I have seen in that very room. Heck, I have not noticed anything racist, sexual, ect. No need to worry parents, you need to understand that this generation is different than the last, and that your child is starting to mature. Look at what we have now; Fancy computers, walkin’ robots, and believe it or not, a group of scientists have invented a machine that can actually control living things. Instagram is a place where kids and adults can let thier creativity out. That being said, allow me to mention that school is doing the opposite of that. It seems that the smartest students in my class are the ones that are the most creative. I believe that children like me should be allowed to use these services, without the feeling that they are not allowed to do everything adults can do. I am a hispanic-american, and have been called names because of my race. Obviously, what race I am is not in my control. I have not seen any kind of this type of behavior on instagram. You do not want them to get the feeling that they can not do everything that adults can do, we are all humans, and tweens and adults should both have equal rights. I focus my life on studying technology. We are not 5 year olds anymore, we can speak, do math, and much more to the point where we will become smarter that our parents, graduate, and earn a worthless piece of paper saying that we survived being caged up in small little classrooms for seven hours, every day. Almost 96% of Americans forgot almost 95% of what they learned. Knowledge is being forced into children, and it is unfair. What i am trying to say is to let your kids feel free to do anything they want on instagram, but a little peek at what they have been doing won’t hurt.
    Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.”

    • Julie says:

      Listen, I get it. Kids and teens feel like they are invincible — they always have, and they always will. You feel like there is nothing that you can’t handle, whether it is information, conversations, relationships, or whatever. I get it. Been there, done that. The fact that life is “very different” for today’s kids than it was for me is true, but the same basic rules of science apply. The brains of children, teens and young adults take in and process information very differently, and cause them to respond, again, in very different ways. This is a fact, not different from kid to kid. Parents, carefully monitor your kids’ online activity and accounts. Just this past weekend, we discovered that my 6 year old niece had an instagram account, created by her 18 year old cousin. Many of the photos were beautiful, but there were quite a few of the 6 year old in her bathing suit (on both the 18 year old and 6 year old’s accounts). Digging a little deeper, these pictures were reposted on several other accounts, and even websites, all with little girls in compromising poses. This was not the intention of my 18 year old niece, but it happened anyway. Parents, do not be bullied by your kids. They may be more tech savvy, but basic rules and boundaries apply everywhere. Don’t be swayed by the drama of, You don’t respect my privacy! Everyone else is doing it/has it/uses it! It’s my right! Kids, we do this out of love and our responsibility to keep you as safe as we can. We want you to learn from your mistakes, but we can not let adult predators profit from them. Bottom line: no instagram for anyone under 18, unless a parent has full access and reviews the account frequently.

      • Pierre says:

        Well said Julie! The internet is a wonderful and an awful thing. It is a great tool but potentially life-damaging if not used properly. Kids simply don’t have the judgement to see and understand every aspect of their actions. Pictures and/or comments posted can potentially stay on the internet for all to see for years to come.

      • Kristina says:

        I think you nailed it with this post, Julie.

        Yes, our children are wise and creative and they need outlets for that creativity. Undoubtedly, and the poster above is very articulate and presents a good argument as to why kids should have Instagram.

        If only it were that simple.

        Children – and make no mistake 10,11,12,13 year olds are still children in every sense – don’t lack in creativity or smarts, but they do lack in experience, and they are not great a predicting the outcome of their actions. Kids are more impulsive than adults, and their innocence can get them into trouble as they can not predict what problems their social media posts can create.

        As a mom, it’s my job to draw the line. My daughter doesn’t enjoy homework, but I make her do it. She doesn’t want to eat vegetables and she’d love to gorge on candy, but I insist upon nutrition. At 9pm she swears she’s not tired, but if she doesn’t go to sleep the next morning will be a nightmare. She’s still learning, and it’s my job to keep teaching her.

        I’m okay with saying, “Not yet. It’s not time. Social media will wait for you.” And I’m okay with continuing to have that conversation with her on a weekly basis, explaining my rationale, and listening to her pleading, because it’s my job as a mom to protect her best interests. I’m even okay with her being mad at me for not giving me the answer she wanted, because I know that she knows it’s done out of love.

        And then we go do something fun, invite a friend over, and move on with our lives. We’ve got a good relationship, and I don’t need to cave on important things just to please her.

  16. Smiley21 says:

    I am 10-12 and I want a Instagram. I have promised myself to only follow people I know. Some of my friends have one and I asked them about it. They said they block people with inappropriate things and are careful. I am wondering about vine though. Will someone help me out with both of those? I am researching currently.

    • Rainslick says:

      Wow vine? Seriously your parents need to be the ones you are talking to. Vine is fully inn appropriate…and at your age the first road block should be that it is illegal for you to have either account.

      • Kailie Gray says:

        I am a 13 year old girl that has everything- Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, you name it, I have it.

        My advice is not to get vine. It is for teenagers. Alot of my friends/ other people I follow, we all swear at least slightly in our Vines. So its not intended for 10 year old ears. Wait until your 13.

        For Instagram, I think it’s really ridiculous for 10 year olds to have Instagram. so I say wait until your 11 at least for Insta.

        Be careful on social networking sites, they are full of drama, trust me!

  17. Martsia says:

    Hello, I recently heard of “Instagram” and am very interested. I am a straight A student and know that I can be mature for it even though I’m 12. Am I ready for Instagram?

    • PAT says:

      DONT DO IT. MY 12 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WHO SOUNDS A LOT LIKE YOU WAS TRICKED INTO BELIEVING SHE WAS CHATTING WITH BOYS HER AGE WHEN I BELIEVE THEY WERE MALE ADULTS. THEY SOMEHOW GOT MY BABY GIRL TO SEND THEM INAPPRPRIETPICS. OF HERSELF. PLEASE STAY AWAY.

    • Rainslick says:

      Nope you would be breaking the law.

      And to those saying you can’t chat on instagram…wrong you can comment on pics and others can post more comments…sure sounds like a way to chat. Others take pics with heir phones of things they write on their tablets and post those…

    • Kailie Gray says:

      Ignore the comment all in caps. You cannot privately chat with people on Instagram, only on the comments under pics, so everyone can see the comments unless you delete them.

      You sound like your ready for Insta! Im 13 and i have had one since I just turned 12. I want to warn you, BE CAREFUL on who follows you, and put your profile on private, so you can control who follows you! if an inappropriate account is trying to follow you, you can decline. (I also suggest blocking it) So have fun and be careful! Instagram IS pretty safe.

    • Ellie Whipp says:

      never it is so dangerous people can trick you into doing allsorts on it my friend saw a rude picture and then her mum took her off it it is very dangerous do not do it

  18. Megan says:

    GREAT website!! I’m so thankful I found your site! Is their an app that you would recommend that just allows safely editing pictures? My kids enjoy adding filters and such to pictures (the dog, etc), but we definitely don’t want them sharing anything? Thanks again!!!!!

  19. savannah says:

    Ok so I have had an instagram for a year or so and haven’t had any issues. I mean I think you should at least be 11 or 12. I rarely come across.nutidy and if someone finds something like that it would be because they were looking for it. Cutting on the other hand has more to do with paying more attention not instagram! I mean everyones gotta.learn. I do think that your photos should be private and not geotagged. But don’t stress too much. As a kid you had to learn good and bad too. So calm down.

    • Stacey says:

      If you are that naïve to think that you can’t come across nudity accidentally, I wouldn’t even post if I were you. Everyone may need to ‘learn’ about things, but an 11 year old getting exposed to pictures that are inappropriate can and has had significant impact. My son struggled with that, and he wasn’t even looking for it-we were looking for pics for a research project. Being aware and engaged in making things safe and trying to prevent unnecessary exposure or the ripple effects of posting ‘sexy’ pictures in order to be more popular isn’t something someone needs to ‘calm down’ from. I think it’s an app that parents, if they do allow it, would need to monitor and educate their children– not just get it and then forget about it. Kids don’t have the sense or computer savvy to make sure they’re maintaining their privacy, and they don’t generally want to offend their friends by saying something shouldn’t be posted. I agree with another post- it could be a great app, and is a shame some selfish idiots choose to ruin it for other people.

  20. Clarice says:

    Obviously there are dangers in any social media site and Instagram is no exception. What I have noticed is the particular attraction it holds for tween/teen girls and how it changes their behavior. Girls with public accounts soon become obsessed with gaining large number of followers. They soon realized that more provocative pictures attract more likes – more followers and then begins a spiral of behavior that encourages them to focus on their looks. Sad.

    • Kent Morgan says:

      you are right, however LIFE teaches young girls this. sex sells, and instagram is merely the most recent incarnation of that idea. that being said, used responsibly, instagram is quite enjoyable and can be used to browse any interest.

      • Rainslick says:

        Kent Morgan you come off sounding really creepy. On some posts you claim to be a tween and then on others try to appear like your older and that you should be considered a peer authority to the parents making decisions….all in all your posts are coming off exactly like an adult pretending to be a child…and what kind of an adult would be trying to talk other adults into letting their guards down when it comes to their children. You ought to realize your posts are not consistent and you are coming off like a predator.

    • Aidan says:

      i know! thats why my mom wont let me have one! i told her I wouldnt be obsessed with that but she still says no…!!!! :( :( :(

  21. someone says:

    I’m 12 and my friends have instagram and I was thinking about having it but these commets about it sound bad so I won’t get it now

  22. Holly says:

    Well I personally think as a parent that anyone from around 8-12 can have Instagram because as you become older (teenage years) you start to become more subject to bullying and self suicidal behaviour.

    • Stacey says:

      Did you read what you wrote before you posted? Because it didn’t make sense. Are you saying kids 8-12 SHOULD have Instagram in order to prevent bullying and suicidal behavior later? Or that they shouldn’t?

  23. Time says:

    I am 12 and have just gotten an Instagram. I have gotten straight A’s for every quarter of the school year so far. My parents are don’t set guidelines about me and internet safety, though. But I self-taught myself.. I already learned about the countless danger of the internet; from cyberbullying to suicide; & did some research before I got an Instagram. I looked up articles similar to this one, and read about both the dangers and fun that is in this site to know what I would face. I decided I would go ahead and make an account. I set myself a rule to never upload a photo of my face, unless it was the back of my head. If I saw a photo that was inappropriate,I roll my eyes and block whomever it belonged to because that stuff is just plan weird. People cutting themselves on Instagram are mindless and are controlled by strangers on the Internet…
    I manage quite fine on Instagram, and it’s very fun! I upload photos of my drawings, random scenery, and photos of me (with my face blacked out.) I only follow my friends that I know in school, and only let them follow me. I don’t care if someone threatened me to do something I didn’t want to, like an making an explicit photo of me or telling them personal info. I ignore them. A lot of the internet is a pit of hell, but if you find the right bridge across it it turns into the most fun place around. Just, be sure to not get addicted.

    But I do personally think that other parents should set a minimum of at least 13-15 years old for your kids to go on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social sites like that. Lots of kids are just not capable to keep themselves safe on the Internet. From being on social sites I have begun to causally use swear words, sadly.
    Thank you for reading!

    • Devon says:

      your a really smart kid that really makes me feel proud that younger generations like you think that way i just hope your way of thinking rubs off on other kids. stay safe

    • Martsia says:

      I completely agree with you. I myself am also a straight A student, so like any, my parents have trust in me if I do get Instagram,- to use it maturely.

      I have a few classmates at school that are not the
      “role-model” type, using social networks like, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ect- when, these kids are failing classes, getting into trouble, and on top of that, are beyond spoiled. I personally think that these medias are privileged things and therefore, should not be thrown into the hands of immature teens.

      • Bob says:

        You sound very mature, thank god your generation isn’t as unintelligent as it looks.

        • Martsia says:

          Thank you, that means alot… and I COMPLETELY agree about what you said about our “generation”, it really is sad.

    • Aidan says:

      youre smart! wish i knew you so you could reason with MY parents

    • Rhonda says:

      You sound like a very responsible 12 year old. Good for you!

  24. Thatguy says:

    I went on this website to help me convince my mom to let me get instagram. After reading some of these coments. I don’t want instagram anymore.

  25. Sparkles says:

    I just want to say that there is a dark side to everything. There is bullying, inappropriate language and more in places other than social networks. Many parents grew up before Facebook was barely an idea, and are therefore a little unsure about social networks. The best defense we have against the evil nature of some sickos on the Internet is EDUCATION. Educate your children about the importance of protecting your personal information online. Many people are going on and on about “just scrolling through pictures” when they see something dirty. However, unless you are following someone with a tendency to post material of this type, are just randomly clicking through photos, or clicked on a hash tag which could easily relate to something highly inappropriate, it is extremely unlikely that you will find anything of this nature. Doing any of these things is very unwise, and following someone you do not know who posts dirty pictures is downright stupid. If your child is truly as innocent as you believe, they will be cautious enough to not do these things. Doing these things is like asking for trouble. If you have educated your child on keeping their profile private, and on the dangers of looking for these things, the odds are in the favor of them being safe. If your child is looking for these things, or engaging in other inappropriate behaviors, such as cutting, bullying etc., chances are, you need to have a serious talk. If your child is being safe, they likely won’t encounter any problems. But if your child’s account seems to be mentioning or involving these behaviors, something is wrong outside of Instagram, and they may need to talk to a professional. Remember not to be a helicopter parent, but keep a healthy eye on your child and watch out for anything dangerous. If you act this way, it is unlikely Instagram will become anything other than a fun, photo-sharing website for you and you child to enjoy TOGETHER.

  26. Rachel says:

    I love instagram and nobody will ever change it and I think it’s an awsome place for me and my friends and you should let your children be on at least if there 10 like me

    • Melanie says:

      Dear Rachel,

      Maybe you should spend a little more time reading and less on social networking sites. You spelled two words wrong in your post. Awesome has an “e”. Secondly, in your last sentence, “there” should be “they’re” as in they are. There is used to show location and their is used to show possession. I also noticed your post was at 3AM. That is pretty late for a 10 year old.

      And to all those parents out there that allow their 9-13 year olds to freely roam the internet either on Instagram or any other website needs to wake up. These devices do nothing but stifle children’s potential, dumbing them down to the highest level of the lowest achiever. Stop trying to live through your kids or overcompensate through mindless gadgets. Thomas Jefferson spoke multiple languages by the time he was 13 and most kids do not know the difference between there, their and they’re. If you really care about your children, you will have them focus on important issues and not waste their minds on things like this.

      And yes, I have two children within the age group being discussed. I went on this website to find out about Instagram because one of them asked me about it. After reading this, it will not be downloaded because I am more concerned with their overall welfare versus being a popular parent.

      My children also know the difference between there, their and they’re.

      • older sibling says:

        I must say that ever since I have gotten this app my younger sister has started a competition with me who has the most followers. She is addicted to it and is posting her heart out and her private life. I find it is too easy for anyone with the app to see pictures of my sister and to know the exact time and date of the post and to be able to track the location its not that hard! This app is a danger to your children and takes up huge amounts of space on your tablet or iPhone It is filled with creepers and pictures of nudity and sexual slang and vocabulary I dislike it very much.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Melanie,
        I’m a 11 year old myself and I just want you to know that I both agree and disagree with you’re opinion. Yes, Instagram is in some cases “wrong” and inappropriate for children under the age of 13. (Or older.) BUT if you can see who your child is following and what they are doing on it, it will be a nice and APPROPRIATE for children. That is what my mother does to me and she gives me a time limit to be on it. In the end, I still get homework done and I do all the things I am required to do BUT I also get to use Instagram at the same time. Last of all, I do know I must have made grammar or spelling mistakes and I just want you to know that I don’t want you correcting me.

        Thank you for your time,
        Anonymous

        • Concerned father says:

          Melanie,
          You made the same mistakes. “You’re” means “you are”. Your is the possessive.
          I think 11 is too young. Instagram requires a DOB and does not even have the year 1999 as a possibility. In order to join you have to lie about your age. There is a reason for this.

      • Stacey says:

        Melanie,
        I wholeheartedly agree that the single most important factor in this equation is involvement; parents shouldn’t simply download an app for a child and leave them alone with it. I have a daughter begging to get this app, and I’m not allowing it for several reasons. The first is due to the fact that she would have to falsify information because of her age. Additionally, I am concerned about accidental exposure when I would rather determine when certain discussions occur regarding nudity, bullying, cutting, and any other inappropriate material that she may see without my presence.

        I am concerned about your tone in talking to a 10 year old you don’t know. You were sarcastic, attacking, and your approach was not in a teachable manner, but frighteningly close to the bullying we are trying to prevent. I would urge you to temper your comments to clearly communicate your message while not belittling this child who obviously needs instruction.

      • Jill says:

        Thank you, Melanie! Finally, a sensible person on here. I too found this discussion in search of some answers about what Instagram is and how safe it is for my child. After reading several of these posts, I have come to the conclusion that many of these “kids” posting are actually SICK adults posing as kids. You people are the very reason I worry for my children’s safety every day! Thank you for making things very clear…We will not be opening an Instagram account!

      • Delaney says:

        Melanie, thank you. I have an Instagram, and I’m 12. It hurts me so much when people use the wrong “there”, “their”, and “they’re”. I’m in 6th grade and in the magnet program, and I know the difference between different parts of speech, but, sadly, others do not. And others also do not use correct capitalization, spelling, etc. I’m a grammar freak! Thank you, again.

      • sibling older says:

        Yeah I bet it really hurts you so much when people use incorrect grammar.

        Chill. People don’t need to use correct grammar in a nonformal setting on the internet. There are typos and mistakes all the time and people leaving comments are not going to edit what they post. It’s not a big deal; please have some flexibility. I’m sorry if you are annoyed but it’s pretty immature to get so worked up about grammar in a casual setting.

        I don’t agree with Rachel at all. I think her post is dumb and immature. But it is not my place to judge her values publicly, despite what I think. Even if her values are polar opposites to mine.

        Melanie, I don’t think it was worth your time and effort to point out the mistakes of a ten year old. Also you don’t know what time zone Rachel was in; it could have been 12 am instead of 3 (which is still much too late for a ten year old. But again, not judging). Or what if she was vacationing in Japan? It would’ve been 4 pm for her. Don’t freaking make judgements unless you know what’s up! Or if you are making mental notes of how to learn from other people’s mistakes, teaching your kids, whatevs. But if it has nothing to do with you just chill. You can express why you agree or disagree (that’s what the whole comment system is about), but don’t go pointing out what she needs to fix in her life if it has nothing to do with you, dude. It might seem like I’m being a little preachy as well, but the only thing I am telling you is chiiilllll.

        Once again, I disagree with Rachel.
        Once again, I also disagree with Melanie on telling other people how to live and asking them to change their values according to you own. No one is perfect and that includes you. Everyone makes mistakes (

    • older sibling says:

      You are crazy this is a dangerous website that makes addicts out of our younger sisters and brothers!

    • Nicole says:

      If you people are so concerned why not just get your kid a normal phone where all they can do is text and call. Why do you have to get them a smart phone? And Rachel, your 10……….you don’t need a social networking app like Instagram yet. You should get one when you are older and more responsible. Right now just live your life and be a kid. Don’t clutter it up with unnecessary things like Instagram or Facebook.

  27. RealWorld says:

    I have worked in technology for over 20 years and have would consider myself a expert technologist. I have have two kids (ages 9 and 10). On countless occasions I hear from friends and family asking for advise on how to lock-down access to various sites. I always mention OpenDNS which is a great DNS service that will lock-down countless given sites for any device connected to your router. Nonetheless, in the end it is best to educate your children on the dangers of the net, lay down ground rules that include a parents right to check any given devise at any time for any reason, and last but not least – parents have full access to any given account via login and password.

    I introduced my kids to instagram and monitor their every move:). I leverage statigram on a daily basis to check their posts, followers, etc. In addition, I recently spoke with them about the following … they should truly know the people they follow and should truly know the people who follow them … this is HUGE.

    I wish we could place our children in a plastic bubble and protect them forever, but unfortunately that is not reality. We must protect our children through education and mentoring. Embrace technology and know every aspect of it. When your kids get involved with something like instagram, stay a step ahead of them. Embrace it, study it, and fully understand it. As parents, we will not always be around and hopefully we can provide a solid foundation so they can make good choices.

    • Diane says:

      Does this help if your child has secret accounts on Instagram? Because that’s what my ‘clever’ daughter does. Lucky for her I am more clever.

  28. mzadvntr says:

    just confiscated 11 yr old’s itouch. she won’t be getting it back until she is 16, and it will be horribly out of date by then anyway. She got involved in a vocaloid role playing group of kids, which turned out to be teenage boys soliciting naked pictures of any girl they could find. In addition, they convinced her to sign on to Kik, which is basically a porn site for teenagers ( or those posing to be teenagers…) and were trying to get her to post pictures of herself naked. Do yourself a favor, just don’t get your kids these devices, and if you do, don’t trust them. Your kids are more savvy than you think.

    • Kai says:

      What your doing is very bad and you shouldent confiscate her i touch for 5 years because of that. My son role plays and he has no problem with any of that stuff. And KIK is not a porn site for teenagers, it’s a message app that my son has and I do too. I do think you should re think your decision because you over exagerating your decision and being a bad parent by your decision. And he is also only 11 and you can trust your children. Because I check everything on his iPhone.

    • older sibling says:

      that’s what a kik is? I had no idea! That’s what my sister signed up for and she is 8!

    • Lynnley223 says:

      Omg! I just caught my daughter role playing on kik and it was so vulgar And pornographic I couldn’t believe it! She just turned 10 last week! Is this “role playing” a common thing with kids these days? I don’t quite understand what they are doing. The “character” she was talking to was playing a wolf, but the sex scenes he was describing were totally human! I started crying when i saw the exchange and I have no idea how to handle this situation”

  29. cassy says:

    Let me start by saying if you are giving your children ipads or iphones or any other smartphone device and they are under 13 or 14 years of age, please rethink your parenting. Why are you giving your kids something so advanced? sure they arnt allowed to have instagram or any other social sites, but it does not mean they can just go on the internet browser and search whatever they may please. You can’t shelter your kids from everything. Face it. Yea you can be the lame parent who doesn’t allow your children to have one but that just opens up a large opportunity for them having one behind your back! And please your comments “they could be scrolling and without warning be exposed to nudity ect” your child may also be walking home from school and is approached by a rapist! Its the new biggest thing for our youth and young adults to be connected over social media sites. Its time we get our minds out of the 70s 80s 90s and realize this is what’s happening.

  30. Michelle says:

    There is a rule that they must be 13 for a reason

  31. Tyler says:

    My first introduction to instagram was a picture “so and so” sent me having “looked at this picture”. When I clicked the link, it took me somewhere I never saw the same picture again, but hundreds of others. ??

    Second introduction was when we found a picture posted of my 11 yr old daughter’s leg, in which she had cut the word “Fat” with a razor. She was communicating with more than a hundred other kids about cutting and anorexia. Never had issues with either before.

    I get that some of the stuff posted is emotional and soothing for her. But, gosh, a site full of emotionally vulnerable misunderstood teenage girls? What a perfect hunting ground for a psycho!

    I am currently learning everything I can to prevent any of my computers EVER to interact with this insidious pos software. Thanks for your site.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Tyler -

      I’m sorry for what your daughter is going through, but I am glad to know that you are involved in what she is doing online or through her cell phone.

      Consider inviting her to check out Yoursphere.com. The focus is on kids’ interests, creativity and engaging activities. Perhaps she’ll find she can get the social support she’s looking for based on the things she loves to do.

      Best,
      Mary Kay

    • sara says:

      my 9 year old daughter never had a problem on it i think it is ok for 9 and up!

      • nicole says:

        Sara,
        Please do not be naive as we were. Our daughter got her ipod at 9 and was responsible with it. She’s almost 12 now.She is a straight a student, very happy child. We just found posts about cutting & noticed she had been cutting herself. I did monitor her posts and this still happened.

        • Diane says:

          My daughter has the same issue with cutting. Things happened that made me suspicious she was doing this but searching her Instagram is how I found out for a fact she was.

          I know every kid is different but as far as I am concerned, Instagram is the devil. They will tell your kid how to cut, where to cut, how deep is ok, how to hide it, how to kill yourself as well as give them reasons to consider suicide and cutting.

          And if you think following their account and having their password helps, you’re wrong. Kids make secret accounts (especially self harmers), it takes a great amount of cleverness to find a secret account.

          My sister in law always said her kids were not allowed on social media until they were 18. I thought she was crazy at the time. Of course she eventually caved but she was right. The internet can be a great tool but it is a sick world we live in and social media, especially instagram, is a horrible place for kids.

    • Beth says:

      I got a new I-pad to use for my business and my kids were picking it up at home playing games and face timing friends. No big deal, right? Wrong.

      I also was inadvertently introduced to Instagram when I found the icon had been loaded on my i pad by my teenage daughter earlier this week. I was horrified when I clicked on it and found my daughter had left her account open. Like you I was mortified to see literally HUNDREDS of kids following each other with some of the most horrific photos of them starving themselves, mutilating their bodies, teaching each other HOW to mutilate so their parents won’t find out, carving words into their bodies, talking about killing themselves, threatening to kill themselves, making packs to starve themselves. I was and still am speechless.

      If you guys think your kids don’t see this you are NUTS!! Call me old school but giving your kids unsupervised access to all the vile garbage that is out there is shameful. Computers at my house have been locked down with Net Nanny, I-pad stays with me at all times, I-phones have been revoked and counseling started. Prior to this we already had put limits on their phones by using safe browsers, I had access to their cell phone passwords. PC in our house in in the living room where we all can see it. If they had Facebook accounts, we have passwords. Phones do not go to bed with my kids. They had to plug them in in our room before they went to bed. WE thought we were being smart and safe by monitoring what our kids had access to. WE WERE WRONG. They could open accounts on Instagram and use it completely without our knowledge or consent and totally anonymously. I am still disgusted by this and wish there was some where to go with this. I cannot imagine how Instagram can allow accounts like this. It makes me sick to my stomach even thinking about some of the images I saw and these are OUR KIDS. This is your kid, your neighbors kids, kids at your church. Don’t be naive about this as parents. I would love to call the mother of the beautiful young girl who took a photo of herself standing in her bathroom with blood running down her legs and arms and say “Dear God! Do you know this is happneing in YOUR house??” I am sure they don’t.

      I know also that my kids can walk out the door to school any day and gain access to someone else’s phone or gadget and will have a new account open by the end of the day.

      I would never in a million years have guessed that my beautiful, honor student daughter was associated with that kind of garbage. Shame on me…..

      • Diane says:

        I know your pain and horror. I am quite disappointed in how I had been parenting. I gave my daughter too much credit, having no idea what she was doing on there. That will never happen again.

    • nicole says:

      Tyler, we are going thru a similar issue that I never thought we would have to deal with. Our daughter is very smart, straight a s, very mature and was reposting info from a cutters site & we recently learned she had cut herself. I was stupid to believe she was only looking at pics of one direction. WAKe UP PARENTS, THIS COULD BE YOU. PLEASE MONITOR THEIR EVERY MOVE.

  32. Jenna says:

    I dont really understand why everyone thinks Instagram is so bad. Yes i understand bad things have happened but just because it happened to one person doesnt mean its going to happen to everyone. My 12 year old daughter has a instagram and is perfectly fine. Also lots of kids from her grade is on Instagram and its a great way to connect with friends. She only follows people she knows and at the end of the week i check and she who she is following and who is following her.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Jenna:

      I’m not okay with my kids being able to scroll through wonderful photos and then see obscene photos, beastiality, nudity and violence. There is no filter that can stop that exposure. If a parent wouldn’t leave those photos in their home photo albums or in the magazines in their home, then they shouldn’t be in the apps they use or in the social networks they are a part of. And a parent checking their child’s account or setting that account to private can stop that either. I much prefer an app, a social network, a site that takes all the measures necessary to eliminate that kind of content and instead creates an experience appropriate for kids and teens. Instagram just isn’t that site.

      • Maggie says:

        Im 11 and i have an instagram Along with most of my elementury school. My parents have an account as well to moniter my page. If you trust your children instagram is perfectly safe!! There are privacy settings that will keep your children in charge of who can acsess your instagram. It is a interesting app that is something new and cool for your kids to try out. If you know your children well enough you should know they would not be juvinile enough to post or look for inappropriate topics. Overall it is a safe twist on social networking for kids of this generation

    • Stephanie says:

      You need to realize that a lot of kids create multiple accounts on instagram. So you think you are following them, but you are probably not following everything.

      My daughter is 10, has been using instagram for a few months but has violated her agreement with us and her app will be removed from her phone.

      It’s not just the picture viewing… you need to realize that kids are reaching out to others via the KIK they post on instagram — and by others I explicity mean “strangers”.

      Monitoring their instagram account is truly only giving you a small piece of the picture – there is so much more these kids are doing with instagram as the launching point.

      • PAT says:

        I just found out my 12 yr.old was on KIK which she found on instagram. turns out she sent inappropriate pics. of herself to two “boys” one in NY and one in Canada. My heart is broken and blame myself for being so naive.

  33. T says:

    I know this is old, but I didn’t see one person say this. How about not giving your 10yr old an iphone/ipod or smart phone in the first place? You can buy them a cell where they can just text and call or ones where they can just text or call you. Shocking I know. All of guys going on and on about how hard it is. No it’s not. Don’t buy them stuff that gives them access to those apps. Not going to kill them not to have one. BTW you guys should be more worried about Tumblr than any other site. That site is disgusting. You can look up a tag like cute or watersports and be splashed with obscene nudity and half the kids on there talk about kiling/cutting themselves constantly.

  34. Thankful for this site says:

    My 10 year old has been begging for an instagram account. I told her I would research it before we decided…. After reading all this there is no way I will allow her to open one, but we will read many of these post together so she understands why.

    For the kido’s on this site… you have to realize we are doing the best we can as parents to raise you in a safe environment. As a God fearing parent, why take a chance on exposing your children to something thier minds are not yet ready to experience. Young minds are shaped and formed by everything they see and do. Porn is burned in a child’s mind forever… even if they don’t want it there. Adults as well.
    It saddens me that our world’s normal is turning into a constant battle for what is right.

    I am glad I spent the last hour reading this…..

  35. Anne says:

    I am a 6th grade teacher who has recently become aware of Instagram-not from the students, but from other teachers. Some of them are following their students accounts to stay alert about potential bullying, planned fights, etc. It is very disturbing what some of these young children are posting on this supposedly safe photo sharing site. Just found out yesterday that one of my students, an eleven year old girl, had posted a picture her bed fully covered with thongs and other suggestive lingerie. She had hundreds of “likes” on the photo, mostly from boys and men. She now has started to have other girls acting out toward her at school for “trying to steal their boyfriends”. This is from a girl who seems very shy, makes passing grades, and is not a behavior problem. The info was turned over to our guidance counselor. We can’t do much legally at school to protect these kids from their own self-destructive behavior, especially if the parents are unconcerned, lazy, or just clueless about their children’s online lives.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Thank you for sharing what’s going on at your school. I absolutely urge you to reach out to your fellow teachers and request that they “NOT” follow students on Instagram, (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). My husband is a teacher and a coach and while I understand why a teacher would want to “follow”/”friend” their students, it is really “NOT” a good idea at all. It can unintentionally jeopardize the teachers job, reputation and relationship with their students. There are a number of other smart and healthier ways a school or teacher can keep up with students in social media.

  36. Ashley says:

    How old do you suggest being to get your first instagram?

    • Mary Kay says:

      When you’re a junior or senior in high school and you’ve had a couple Internet safety courses under your belt. Those classes will help you from accidentally giving out personal information via pictures.

      You also have to realize that Instagram isn’t really meant for children so try signing up for a kids only social network first and try to get a feel for social networking that way.

      • Laurie says:

        What are some safe social media websites for children?

        • Mary Kay says:

          Hi Laurie:

          Consider checking out Yoursphere.com with your child.

          What’s important for parents to look at with any site, is the content and culture within the site. So many sites have outside layers that look youth-appealing, but when you look through the layers of the site, sometimes you discover a culture and content like the one described in all the comments in this article.

          I’m optimistic that kids just want to be kids, and it’s our obligation to help them be just that. It’s what we’re all committed to at Yoursphere.

          Best,
          Mary Kay

  37. Drew says:

    I think that every one is being way over protective. I think that Instagram is just a fun app to let your kids share photos with their friends. There are settings for your account to make it private if you don’t want people that you don’t know looking at your kids photos. If someone you don’t like is doing stuff to you account, block them and you don’t have to deal with that. Seriously, I think that even if you are 12, but your in middle school, your kid should be allowed to get one. Middle school is when things get more social, and I wouldn’t want my kid to be anti social. Even if there is an inappropriate picture, there is a report photo button, where you can report any thing that is inappropriate.

    • Mary Kay says:

      As a parent I’m just not comfortable with my kids participating in a social media site, or using an app where the publishers behind the site/app allow porn, beastiality and graphic violence to be a part of the experience when they know young people are using their product. It’s why for example I make sure our computer or tablets have the right content filters installed. Sadly, we parents can’t install these filters on apps and networks like Instagram. Our kids and teens deserve the opportunity to have their well-being put first and to not knowingly be exposed to adult-intended content. It’s the right thing to do for them.

    • bill says:

      @drew. You seem to have missed the point. Would you want your 12 year old coming across a photo of beastiality or some a nude pedophile? I doubt it. Even if they have the option of reporting the photo or blocking the user, the damage has been done. It’s the prospect of this type of situation occurring that may compel a parent not to permit the use of Instagram.

      • MRI says:

        I am so sick and tired of parents acting like dogs and rolling over for their kids. So-n-so said that 9 is a perfectly fine age for their CHILD to be thrown into the vortex of an overly-sexualized society via an “app.”

        Finally, another person out there (besides this Mary Kay lady) with a complete BRAIN. Thank you, “bill.”

        Once the damage is done, it’s DONE. There is no going back. You musta watched “Men in Black” too many times. That “flashy thingy” doesn’t really exist. There is no erasing.

  38. Annie C says:

    I have two kids on Instagram. Unlike Facebook, there are many ‘front’ sites that look official that aren’t that post photos that kids ‘follow’. Examples would be: “The Official Justin Beiber Fan Page” or “Taylor Swift Fantastic Fans” or “My Little Pony Pals”. Others might be about fashion, sports, etc. These sites have bio’s that post a picture and look like they are run by cool teens or some legal organization and such and post pictures that are appealing to kids. Many offer to ‘follow back’ which means if the child ‘follows’ the user, they will ‘follow’ your child. What this means is that your child’s photos are now available to the user. My 12 year old got lulled into this because she was ‘into’ a particular cutesy cartoon character for a bit. She searched and suscribed to each and every character. A bunch followed her back…she accepted because it was cool among her friends to have many, many followers. At first I didn’t quite understand what was going on. I just thought these were photo sites of cartoon characters from a children’s show (much younger than her age I should add that she liked and this was some innocent thing. But then one day I delved around a bit and saw a photo on one that had a boy with a “Do you gals want to F this boy?” and I KNEW that ANNA was not who she said she was but some predator. I got this sick feeling…Parents BEWARE!!!!!

  39. Kaela says:

    I am 13, and I had an Instagram (starting at age 12)
    A few days ago, my mom pointed out that I was on it all the time, and after she pointed that out, I noticed she was right. If you let your kid have an insta, limit it for sure! I was on it in all of my free time, and it was getting in the way of chores, homework, and family time. Also, if you let your kid, you should probably get one too, because you can monitor everything (their followers, who they follow, what they liked, pictures, and biography information.) But if you aren’t quite sure, I would say wait until your child is at least thirteen, the new age limit!

  40. Hubnuti says:

    I have 2 children , both use instagram and I think that Instagram is anything more than a fun camera app, thats all…

  41. Mary says:

    Thanks for the article and starting to put some guidelines around use of Instagram and other social sharing sites by kids. Most of the comments seem focused on what I would call “stranger danger” and the risk of strangers and perverts invading your child’s privacy.

    Don’t forget the damage that is done routinely by teens who are using this social tool to bully and exclude other kids on an epic scale. When we were young, you had an inkling that you were excluded from a party or an event, or just a circle of friends, but people politely kept it to themselves (or not) but nothing was really documented. Today kids use Instagram to fully document every event in their lives, and their whole community can watch. Every kid that is excluded knows in full living color what they missed and how much other kids lied to them about what was really going on last Friday night.

    The latest rage is creating lists with pics of the “ugliest” or “weirdest” or “most hated” kids in school and circulated through the popular crowd. They’re using it to target kids they want to make fun of or spread rumors about. If you thought teens could be mean to other kids in person, wait til you see what they can do with access to Instagram and a couple of unfortunate out-takes from last Friday’s slumber party.

    Think twice before you allow your kids accounts on Instagram, Snap, Facebook or Twitter. If there was a way to prove social maturity before opening an account that would be ideal. Since there isn’t, pay attention. Watch carefully. Don’t be fooled. And don’t think your kid is nicer than the others and wouldn’t participate in stuff like that.

    • Seriously concerned says:

      I am a 27-year-old single mother to a 9-year-old girl. Her father is currently serving 40 years in prison as a convicted child molester, statutory rapist, and for exploitation of a minor under the age of 12. I can tell all of you parents myspace, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram were a go to resource for him to connect with other pedophiles. Luckily my daughter was not one of his victims. For this reason alone I am obsessively protective of my daughter. Over the past 3 weeks she has been using Instagram. She sat down with me the night she got it and took me on a tutorial on how to use it because I was livid my mother let her get an account. We set all of the security settings possible to make it non accessible to people that were not following her and made it a requirement she had to accept a request before someone could begin following her. I’ve gone on her Instagram numerous times because she followed my sister and a couple of “aunts” aka my close friends, I’ve read comments she’s posted, comments her friends have posted, most of it doesn’t make sense to me, because such improper English was used but I didn’t notice any “bad” behaviors or bad pictures. Until last week. My IPad received a message from one of my daughters friends asking MY daughter to stop making fun of her on Instagram. Needless to say I was LIVID thinking my daughter was cyber bullying someone. So I wrote back to the girl asking in what way was my daughter making fun of her, she explained it to me, before I could even search the Instagram for said bullying I received a message back from the girls father explaining my daughter had done nothing wrong, the girl gave her permission to post the picture and she was regretting it now because of the comments other people were posting on it, relieved that I didn’t have to rain the wrath of God on my daughter I still went and found the picture in question, I read the comments, and could see from a 9-year-old’s perspective why she would be upset. It was deleted. I had been so focused trying to protect my child from predators and derogatory images I completely overlooked potential bullying.

      The moral of my story is my daughter knows what stranger danger is and has been given the rules of not engaging strangers and etiquette online, it doesn’t matter what I say to her or what she has seen (News channels discussing girls missing because they met up with someone claiming to be their age on the Internet) she’s 9. She does not have the maturity to understand the severity or cascading effect actions or words said or done on the Internet can have. These social networking sites shouldn’t be offered to anyone under the age of 18. There should be practices in place to prevent minors from gaining access, asking for credit card verification almost like what pay pal does, to verify they are 18.

      I was 17 when I had my daughter, I was not open and honest with my parents about myself or my activities, my parenting approach is almost a 180 from my parents, please don’t think I’m saying they were bad parents, believe me they weren’t, I love them dearly, they are my life support, my approach to my daughter some may call frightfully honest, I don’t sugar coat things for her, I don’t minimize, and I don’t beat around the bush. Kids are going to do what they want regardless of how they’re raised, we are merely here to guide them in the right direction and protect them from immanent dangers. While I still maintain the control in my daughters life it will be my choice what she can and can not do. I can tell you as of right now my daughter does not have access to Instagram nor will she in the near of far future.

      • Mary Kay says:

        Dear “Seriously Concerned”,

        Thank you for writing and sharing your parenting story. It’s really great to learn about digitally involved parents like yourself.

        Based on the mainstream social networks that are available today, I agree that kids and young teens should not be on them. However, the good news is, there are great places online that have been made just for kids. I tell parents that much like the television industry, social media is the same. In TV, there at one point not so long ago, there used to only be the major networks that you could choose from: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS. Then along came cable. And with cable came choice in children’s programming. That same thing is happening today in social media. There is Yoursphere.com, for example, a social network made just for kids where the content is created by kids, for kids, and where safety and privacy are a key part of the experience. I encourage you to introduce your child to the social media channel made just for her. And, keep up the great parenting.

        Best. Mary Kay

    • Mary Kay says:

      Thanks for reaching out and sharing your knowledge.

      This conversation here presents an opportunity for a “reminder” to parents. Ultimately you and I are ALL responsible for our kids’/teens’ actions online. So, if you give your child access to the Internet – whether through the Xbox, Wii, computer, iPad, iTouch, iPhone, etc., then understand that we are responsible for our children’s actions when using these devices.

      We must all talk to our kids about why it is so very wrong to create “ugliest” “weirdest”, and so on groups. Then, if your child slips up, and does something like this, then hold them accountable for their actions. The challenge we parents face today – unlike parents of the past that all have “new age challenges” is that no one has prepared – until now – us with the tools and knowledge we each need to educate our kids about what is okay to do online and what isn’t.

      We may not like it, but it IS our collective reality, so let’s do all that we can to make it better through education, involvement and follow through.

  42. Neal Salesky says:

    Thank you very much for the honest appraisal of Instagram. My 10-year old has been bugging and bugging me for it, and I had not yet done enough homework on it. Your review – and the additional replies – helped me greatly. I agree that it sounds like a perfect forum to share the love of photography but it also sounds like it’s a perfect source for more trouble than I would ever want. My daughter has an ipod touch and chat capabilities but does not yet have a Facebook account. My wife and I are trying hard to protect her from the possibilities of things turning more, shall we say, deviant. I know I can’t do it forever, but so long as she’s under our roof and we CAN protect her, we shall, no matter how naive it may seem. I’m all for art and nudes taking it’s rightful place in art, but it sounds like Instagram needs to be a little more moderated and its parental control beefed up. I don’t think my Daughter will miss anything by not having Instagram, and I have no problem being the bad guy when she says “My Dad won’t let me create an account.”

    • Mary Kay says:

      Neal – for your 10 year old daughter, introduce her to Yoursphere.com. It’s an age-appropriate kids social network. Most of our members are between the ages of 9 -14. We are working to give our members all the great things the internet and social media have to offer, minus the pitfalls such as the ones documented here. Social media and apps will be a part of our kids lives, it’s just our obligation to steer them in the right direction, give them a chance to experience a kid-friendly site/app, then when they are older allow them to graduate on to the adult-intended networks and app.

      • Peg says:

        Hi, thanks for great info, just when I needed it. Is there a site like Yoursphere.com that is for 15-year-olds and up?

        My daughter is 15 and just got her first iDevice. Navigating these waters is very difficult. Even *finding* the parental controls or privacy controls on these social media is difficult and time-consuming.

        We let her get Instagram because all her friends have it, and the rule is she has to friend only people she knows in real life, but now that I’m checking it, she hasn’t followed that rule. Consequences will follow! But I would love for her (and her friends, because it’s worthless to us if she doesn’t know anyone on the social media when she can only friend people she knows) to find a more-regulated teen-friendly media.

        Thanks so much for what you’re doing here!

  43. Julie Trevino says:

    My daughter has an Instagram that is private but so so I. I follow her and she I. That way I can look all over hers and see what is coming through. She is a straight A student and very honest young girl… She knows she cannot accept and request with out me authorizing them. We have to know them not know “of” them. Right now I feel like we are good parents who are monitoring all she does.. Right now it is a fun social site for her and her friends..the “private” part is the most important . I have even looked at the explore option and have not seen any thing bad. I don’t really understand that explore option all that well.
    Am I missing something because what I have seen has not been terrible at all?

    • Mary Kay says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Julie. You didn’t mention how old your daughter is. Seems like she might be 15 or 16? I just find it terribly problematic that teens on Instagram, even with photos set to private, can simply scroll through photos and come across the content that has been reported and shared here.
      It is, as I said in the article, such a shame that a neat photo sharing product is ruined by the acts of others and by Instagram not making a youth-friendly/kid-friendly version.

  44. Katie says:

    Honestly you should not allow your children to have public photos on Instagram. I have it (I’m 25) and see countless photos of half naked minors begging for attention. For one thing, it’s scary knowing how many creeps are just one app away. And the other is it teaches your kids that you need “likes” and “comments” and other attention or else you aren’t popular or pretty. It sends a terrible message. Also, I can promise at least 7/10 girls with their own phones with a camera, they are sending dirty photos.

  45. Susan McGuire says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing here. I have learnt so many important things from reading all these stories and comments.

    As a parent I am very interested in keeping my daughter safe. This means keeping up to date with modern technology.

    I have talked to my daughter about lots of things I have read here and she has had her eyes opened about how things can easily go wrong when using the Internet and different apps.

    I am so glad I found this web site :)

  46. Maria says:

    Ok so Instigram seriously is bad. my 9 year old daughter has an instigram and was lured into meeting with a 68 year old man who claimed he was a 12 year old girl. VERY BAD SITE!!! Never use it. Block it :) just a tip i dont want your kids getting sucked in

    • Mary Kay says:

      Dear Maria:

      Now that you know the concerns, please keep the dialogue up with your daughter. Also, see if you can steer her in a different direction. Consider activating an account at Yoursphere.com, our social network just for kids and teens. It’ll offer your daughter a fun and age-appropriate experience. Thank you for being a digitally aware and involved parent.

    • Kevin says:

      My Daughter received a new phone for Christmas. She went on Instagram and asked her followers to send her their phone numbers.
      She loaded all of the numbers into her phone.
      She needed to contact a girl on her soccer team today.
      She called the # that was listed on Instagram, received no answer and left no message.

      One hour later, she began receiving texts from this # asking very personal questions.
      Later in the afternoon, she received a close-up photo of a Penis with the comment: “Wahtcha Think??”
      We have the sender’s number and law enforcement will take it from here.
      Let your kids know the information is power and must be kept very private.
      Don’t trust anyone you don’t know very well and dont trust info sent ovewr the internet!

      Good Luck.

      • Jamie says:

        My son just got an instagram account. He opened it when he got his cell phone for Christmas. I had no idea that he put his phone # on his profile. I’ve already had to change his phone # once, now I have to change it again because he got some strange texts today. It didn’t dawn on me that creeps could be getting his phone # from his profile, which I didn’t know was set so that anyone could see it. Thankfully no dirty pictures, but he got a few asking him where he was and things of that nature. I’ll be changing his number again tomorrow. I have since deleted his # from his profile, as well as adjusted his privacy settings so that only people he knows can view his stuff. If we have any more issues, the whole thing is being deleted. Thanks for this info. I’m thankful there’s still a band of us to combat the trash that keeps seeping into our kids’ lives.

    • Brad says:

      I need to add the following WARNING:
      My 9 year old daughter used her iPod Touch to set up an Instagram account because her friends were using it. Her account became littered with child stalkers and graphic photos of “followers.” She simply wasn’t sophisticated enough to set it up properly, and did not tell us she was doing it. She deleted the app, and does not know the password and apparently did not enter a real email. These stalkers now have access to all her friends, and the problem is spreading. We have been asking parents to check their childrens’ accounts, and at a minimum remove my daughter’s account from “followed.” Instagram has not responded to repeated requests to delete the account, and apparently requires a notarized birth certificate to prove that she is less than 13 years old and documentation that we are her legal guardians to allow us the “right” to have the account deleted. She has pictures of herself…9 years old vs. 13+ year old is pretty obvious. Plus, how can this be…can 8 year olds walk in a bar and the bouncer lets parents pull them out only if they have proof that the child is under 21? Of course not, this logic only applies to companies like Instagram (now part of Facebook), so that is intent on facilitating distribution of pornography to children and interfering with the right of parents to control the images of their own children. If one of these stalkers got her in a car, would I need a birth certificate and proof of parental rights to get her back??
      The internet and social media is a significant challenge for parents to monitor and ensure proper safety, but Instagram is the worst example since they refuse, and seemingly even promote exposing children to pornography by making no attempt to verify age or identity (unlike most websites, they do not send a verification email to activate the account).
      Law enforcement will intervene once the pedophiles make actual attempts to meet with one or more of the girls. I just hope it doesn’t take a girl’s body in the woods for Instagram to change their ways. Sorry for the long post, but that site scares me.

      • For me to know and for you to never find out says:

        You guys are only thinking of what your CHILDREN are doing. Think of how many people can easily access your personal information. Think about it, ANYBODY can access your personal info, with the right equipment. They just look up the router you sent it through, or the cell tower, if you use 3G. Yes, bullying and creepers are there. You have to be aware of that. But it really depends on what you put out there. I basically think texting photos or even printing them and showing them is better. Kids only want to do this to be cool, be in the in crowd, and be part of something. Like, you best friend has it. I’m a kid, and you need to be safe. Many of my friends never show the inside of their house. People can map out the inside of your house if your not careful. I would advise you take pictures of yourself or other things with a blank wall behind you as a precaution. I really want to have this to be in the in crowd, to be honest. I have heard of many wierd things people say there, but that is only because they have troubles at home. If your a kid, write a list of all the pros and cons, then show your parents. It might help your case a bit. But, somewhere out there in the world, there is a server with all your stuff on it. ANYONE has access to it, no matter what you might think. But parents, tell your kids to make a list of pros and cons and ask them how they can prove themselves. You have to trust your child fully if you are to let them have this app. It can also be used on ipad, just saying.

  47. LoveForMusic says:

    Hey guys, just thought I’d contribute to this =)

    I’m 16 and I only got Instagram a few months ago and for 2 reasons only: 1) I want to be a photographer and it’s a good way to get noticed and just to practice 2) I want to follow my fave celebs as I feel it’s more intimate than like twitter (which I also think is quite stupid)
    Seeing my friend’s photos was just an added bonus, I’m not really in it for that and I’m not one of those kids that advertise their Instagram to gain followers and be “cool”

    Yeah, I totally understand where you guys are coming from, especially with kik (I think it’s pointless), and I don’t see why some parents let their underage kids use this stuff. Don’t let them on a site called Omegle either: Pure Filth! I miss being that young when I didn’t care about things like that, they’re growing wayyy too fast.

    Buuuut, if your kid does have Instagram, get them to be open about it. I show my rents some of my pics, they’re just happy I’m open about it get that it’s not my fault if people put up inappropriate stuff and trust me, my parents are quite overprotective on most things! If you’re uncomfortable with it, make sure their profile is private or that they block people who follow them that they don’t know, but don’t be a helicopter parent ;)

    Sorry if that was rambly/ranty, just my opinion =)

    • Mary Kay says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your open approach with your parents. They’re lucky. We’re glad to see that you agree with us that kids/teens growing up way too fast with exposure to the type of content other people post that frankly ruin it for everyone else.

  48. Sandra says:

    Thank you for this article. Our school recently sent a letter home to parents warning them about Kik and Instragram and how some of our students were abusing them. I’ve never been comfortable with Instagram but allowed my almost 12 year old daughter to use it with her friends. I didn’t like how even though her settings were set to private SHE could view everyone else’s pictures/comments who weren’t private. I wish she could only view friends then I’d allow it. As it is I removed Instragram from her phone and all iPads. She’s mad at me but too bad. It’s not about not trusting her. I trust her. It’s about what she can be exposed to with the lack of controls on other peoples pictures.
    I’ll check out Yourspere.com and if I like it maybe her friends can move to that site instead.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Sandra – What you said to your son is nearly the exact words I expressed to my son. It’s not about not trusting your daughter, it’s about being a responsible parent and teaching her.

      He has read the entire Instagram article and all the comments. He said, “Mom, I’m not going to let some creepy adult talk to me, or post pictures I shouldn’t. You talk to me about that all the time. Don’t you trust me?”. I told him I did trust him, but it’s not about that. It’s about the unfortunate amount of content that exists, and those that ruin a great idea and product. Most people that use Instagram don’t set their profile to private and as you’ve seen there’s a plethora of content that our teens are better off not being exposed to.

      I’ve shared with my son, as well, that today it’s “Instagram” and tomorrow it will be something else. The point is, if it doesn’t offer a healthy experience for kids and teens, then it’s not a smart digital choice. That’s what we’re all here working to do: educate kids, teens, parents and educators on how to make healthy and smart online choices.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sandra. Yoursphere 2.0 will be coming out soon….

      Mary Kay

    • jim says:

      My daughter is the victim of cyber bulling. Another girl who is jealous of her went on to my daughter’s instagram page and copied all of her photos and info. Then went on instagram and opened up another page using my daughter’s name only this time she put all kinds of filthy derogatory remarks on every photo. There is no way for her to turn it off and instagram is not helping at all in this matter. My daughter is so impressed that she said that she wants to die. This sort of behavior is in excusable. If I get my hand s on the little 4$#^&5$*() no telling what will happen.

      • Mary Kay says:

        Hi Jim – Has your daughter’s life been threatened? If so, I highly advise you to involve law enforcement so they have record of the harassment. Also, do you or your daughter know who the offender is in real life? – Mary Kay

  49. Ananymous (did I spell that right?) says:

    I think that kids should be allowed to have Instagrams, just switch your page to private. Tell your kids that they should be very careful, give them the talk about kids getting taken, don’t let them post personal info (address, name, age, etc.). They should be allowed to have at least SOME privacy… I mean, what if they are posting that they are getting you the one thing you want for your birthday. You start acting differently, they find out you’ve been invading their privacy, they get ticked. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FREAKING’ SURPRISE!!!!! Or maybe their posting that special someone… their crush! Oh, man. I know if my mom saw my crush, I would be so pissed!!! So please parents, especially those who have invaded accounts, I understand. But still, that is no reason for you to go ballistic over an Instogram account. If you trust us more, we can trust you more. We’ll tell you stuff. You should have talked to us about porn before, anyways!!!

    Anonymous (A CHILD!)

  50. Jane says:

    Instagram is kid safe as lone as you put it on private my 10 yr old daughter has been begging me to pet her have one and I let her. Now my 7 yr old son has one too but he barelwy uses it but I always keep an eye on him. Parents it safe just check in on their account once in a while!

  51. Alexis says:

    I’m twelve, and I use to have instagram account but I deleted it. People kept following me and it got really annoying. Most of them was my mutual friends but I still didn’t feel comfortable.

    I still have a account, but I don’t have followers; my pictures aren’t even on it. I only use it to have the picture effect (which I save to my phone.) and that’s it.

    ~Alexis

  52. Annette says:

    HORRIFIED at this kik and instagram. In fact more of us need to get out there and warn other parents. I have been heavily monitoring all my 13yr olds FB, KIK, etc…didn’t quite understand Instagram. ALSO, keep in mind my child is and HAS always been very much into liking girls. From KIK some kid from another state has started ‘grooming’ my child with his bi-sexual orientation…the things he said he would do to my kid made me want to throw up. He’s off ALL social media outlets for quite some time. Kids do NOT understand the dangers out there. Just when we though monitoring FB was enough. Sickened by it all.

  53. Marie says:

    I’m 15 and I used to have one of these. I deleted it because I wanted to focus more on my schoolwork. Along with it, I also deleted my Facebook, Twitter, ect. It really did raise my grades. I spent more time on schoolwork and I got more sleep.

    I have my Facebook back again but I’m considering on deleting it permanently because of the same reason, and that I just don’t like it that much anymore.

    Anyway, parents, I personally would not let my kids get an Instagram. Yes, it’s a cool social network to share pictures with your friends, but it’s really easy to find users who focus their page on pornography and violence. Another thing, it’s a distraction. When I got social networking profiles, my grades went from A’s and unusually B’s, to getting less A’s and more B’s and C’s. After I deleted it, my grades improved.

    So there, parents. Two great reasons to for your teens to not get an Instagram. Oh look, and both are from a teen. :)

    • Thankful parent says:

      That is really mature of you and I am thankful for your honest response. My 11 year old has been begging for one and I think you pegged it on the nose. I am glad to know there are good kids out there like you!

    • almost Thirteen yearold says:

      Hi, my birthday is in alittle more than 2 weeks. I have had instagram for about two years and now there is this rule about being thirteen. All my friends are mostly 12 and they all have instagrams.
      I am turning 13 really soon and I love instagram. When it’s my birthday is it going to turn on? My mom said thats what its going to do and I really hope so because i have over a thousand followers.
      Instagram is my favorite app so plz someone responde. Thankyou.

      • S. says:

        I have deleted my Instagram this weekend, not because I had been told to, but because I was disgusted by the bragging going on. If you are going to get a social network, get Twitter. You don’t have to give any personal info, and you can speak your mind. That being said, this article is a bit uptight. Let your child have an Insta as long as you know the password and check it regularly. Trust me, as long as you don’t follow anybody you don’t know or know of, you are fine. Look, my friends just bragged because they liked to. You don’t have to post pics of yourself, and you can always revoke privileges. I know you are all concerned moms and dads, but studies have shown that letting your MATURE child have a Instagram makes her feel like she is more social, just as long as she know the risks and has a private acct. Also, think about it as if you were in her shoes. If you were a responsible child who knew not to talk to strangers, wouldn’t you want a I
        Instagram?

        S

  54. R. says:

    My 11 year old has been begging for me to allow her to use instagram on her iPad. She truly is the only one of her friends who does not have it. So, I’ve investigated it. I am appalled that parents allow their children to lie about their ages when they click “agree” and accept the terms and conditions (same with facebook). I’m also concerned that when I ask my friends why they agreed to let their kids have an account they think that it is safe just because their kid has a private account. Other than child predators, my major concern is the “Explore” feature. Let a kid enter a few choice explicit words or phrases there and you’ve pretty much given him access to porn and violence. People have public photos that I would never want my child to see and even profile photos that I would never want my child to see. I wish Instagram would allow parents to block the explore feature. That plus a private account would make me feel somewhat better – in a few years.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Well said. Glad to know there’s another involved parent like you. Keep up the good parenting!

    • bacon lover 123 says:

      i am 11 and my mom thinks that instgram is un safe is that true because i think that it is very safe????

      • Drew says:

        I think that if you know what you are doing with the privacy and blocking unfriendly people, it is safe.

        • Mary Kay says:

          As a parent I’m just not comfortable with my kids participating in a social media site, or using an app where the publishers behind the site/app allow porn, beastiality and graphic violence to be a part of the experience when they know young people are using their product. It’s why for example I make sure our computer or tablets have the right content filters installed. Sadly, we parents can’t install these filters on apps and networks like Instagram. Our kids and teens deserve the opportunity to have their well-being put first and to not knowingly be exposed to adult-intended content. It’s the right thing to do for them.

    • Sparkles says:

      Do you really think your child is going to search dirty words? I have had an Instagram for awhile now and never seen anything like porn, etc. The worst thing I have seen is a bad word. If you keep your profile private and only look at the photos of people you know and trust, Instagram can be very fun and safe. As long as you don’t post personal information, follow strangers, or allow strangers to follow you, Instagram is okay for a child who has heard talks about Internet safety. You can get an account to keep an eye on your child and ensure they are using it appropriately. If they are not, you need to talk to them about safety on the Internet and what is appropriate.

  55. marci says:

    hey i an 14 and i think instagram is a great was for us teens to interact with one another so please dont lets parents get in your teens way of having fun

    • Timm2theH says:

      I don’t think this article is telling parents to get in the way of teens having fun. It is informing parents of Instagram and allowing parents to educate themselves of the things that teens enjoy.

      Again, no where in this article does it tell parents to get in the way of teens having fun.

    • Alex says:

      Parents aren’t trying to take away fun, that’s not what they want to do. They want to keep their children safe, and make sure they stay on top of grades.

      That being said, you need to focus on school. Your comment has so many errors in it. Try saying it like this:

      Hey. I am 14 and I think Instagram is a great way for us teen to interact with one another. So please don’t parents. Don’t get in the way of your teen having fun.”

      You’re a prime example to NOT let your teen get one of these.

      Maybe you need to focus more in English. Less Instagram maybe?

  56. Lee says:

    I can not believe how naive I have been! I just figured out what Facebook was all about and now Instagram! My 14 yr. old boy was accepting ANYONE from around the world and posting pics letting all of them know we were out of town. Even though his pics and profile included sponge bob, his NIKE shoes and his new haircut – He was following 547 people and 365 were following him!!! I can ASSURE you he does not know 547 people, including ALL ages, and ALL kinds of things those people were into! He was baffled and grossed out when I told him the “15 year-old girls” writing him how sexy he was – was most likely pedophiles. We thought we were being smart by having controls on our computers, TV, and being careful about who he hangs out with etc… My friend calls KIK and Instagram POCKET PORN for kids and I’m afraid I have to agree. I can not BELIEVE our children can access this crap! I wish I had been warned earlier and am thankful I caught it early (yes, early – it took less than a week!) Parents BEWARE and THANK YOU for this sight. (He actually read some of your stories and he is scared straight. Is selling his Ipod and shut down all accounts. Voluntarily!)

    • Mary Kay says:

      Lee -

      I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through, but want to applaud you for being an involved parent. Like you, it really angers me what is going on all around our kids, yet no one seems to care that it’s happening. Hence the reason why I left my job and started this company. To start providing solutions for families. It’s really got to stop. Facebook keeps letting it go on and obviously saw Instagram as the prime acquisition target. But, the list goes on. Tumblr, Formspring, tiny chat etc etc. It’s all around them. None of the sites, apps are putting the well-being and safety of kids first.

      As a parent with five kids, your son shouldn’t have to get rid of the technology or other digital devices. Thank goodness he has you to help teach him how to use them safely. At Yoursphere.com, we take pride in providing an age appropriate experience. Kids should be able to enjoy the benefits of technology. So, consider encouraging him to keep the iPod. Use this article about what I did with my 10 year old and his iPod. It may help. http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/2010/11/how-to-have-a-safe-ipod-touch-and-a-happy-kid/

      All the best to you,

      Mary Kay

  57. C W says:

    My 12 year aold daughter was using instagram and was sent a forward from someone stating now that she had read it someone would be watching her and come into her room when it was dark some night and get her. It was very scary to say the least. I told her to get rid of the account completely. The problem now is she is afraid to be by herself especially in her bedroom. What a nightmare!!!

  58. Tony Touch says:

    Instagram is owned by Facebook. The aim is to get as many users to move on to facebook from their instagram usage. Most kids enjoy the communication without knowing the truth. Most cannot handle it.
    Turn on your parental controls. Do not let them download the app or any app without your knowledge. It is too easy for the wrong persons to contact your children without your knowledge.

  59. Nicole says:

    I know this post is old but I wanted to share a an experience we had with facebook when my daughter was 12. She was over a froends house. A friend whose parents are clueless. And her friend somehow went from facebook to one of the chat sites that are advertised. She was chatting with men who were grown adults who knew she was a child and they sent her pictures of their dicks. And one of them was married – he told my daughters friend. sickos. I found out not because my daughter told me, I found out because she accidentally texted me about it instead of one her friends. Before you say “well you arent a good parent becasue she can’t tell you everything” let me tell you that I am a good concerned parent. We dont ALL have the kind of relationships with our kids where they tell us stuff like this no matter how perfect you think you are. Some kids are just more secretive and rebellious than others. Anyways, after my initial hysteria, because after that I wondered if their trip to the forest supposedly with the friends grandmother was for real. It turns out it wasnt. they had gone alone, which made me wonder if these dudes were trying to set up a meeting. as far as I could find out, it hadnt. so I calmed down. but i did not allow her over the girls house again. I called the girls mother and told her. She politely said that kids will be kids and there is nothing you can do except give them birth control.The girl now, has major issues, failing school, 15 and engaged to her boyfriend, having sex with a male German exchange student her parents hosted. My daughter still gets pissed and holds it against me sometimes that i discourage her friendship. And I dont care. Its my duty as a parent to get her to adulthood without getting pregnant or sexually assaulted. So let me tell you how we solved the web issue. My husband and I both work in IT so we are well aware of whats going on with the internet. We got a netgear router and we use opendns to control where she goes. she is now 15. we allow mostly everything except chat sites and porn stuff. but its pretty seamless and it works with apple products. you can also set it up with a time so it shuts off at a certain time. we do that cuz she has to get up at 5 am for school and she has sports and we cant have her up all nite chatting and on fb. she is fine with it . the other good thing is when she pisses us off and we take away her privs, we just do it via the router from anywhere. presto. privs taken away. we dont have to do it really anymore because she just knows…IMO, parents need to get a clue about this stuff. so may of her friends parents just seem to either have no clue or they just dont care about it…

  60. Abbie says:

    I have an instagram account and I love it im 15 so its great to connect with people from school and family… but instagram is for people over 13 and i incorage that it stays that way I myself have come accross thing i never wanted to see on instagram but i quickly made sure to never use that hashtag again and my profile is on private so i may accept whoever i like to see my profile. I see alot of people i know r not on private and they have like 40 yearold men who like all of there pictures. If ur under 18 i sugesst you put your profile on private. My mum doesnt know what instagram is but i take care o myself online and im always super careful so i know she wouldnt care even if she knew what it was.
    Role-play on instagram I love it I play Ginny weasley but i keep to myself on roleplay and really only talk to HP (harry Potter) roleplayers thg (the huger games) people are nuts they have like babies on stripper poles its rediculous. Now yes we cuss on rolelay (i dont much) but parents need to relise that teens even if they dont cuss infront of you we do cuss with our friends its part of being a teenager im sure in your high school days you dropped a couple f boms or s boms as well. I have no idea where im going with this now. But instagram is for people over 13 and should have there prfile on private in my opinion until 18. Role play is fine but monitor it cuse i have seen dirty things babys pole dancing and people sexting through roleplay THATS NOT WHAT ROLEPLAY IS FOR roleplay is to incorage love of the books with other teens and young adults who share the same intrest in harry potter/the huger games/ percy jackson/ narnia etc. so thats my whole opinion on instagram i thought might help some parents in deciding if teens should have an instagram if you hear from a teen yourself :)

    • Mary Kay says:

      Thank you, Abbie. It is important to hear what teens think. If there was one thing you could do to make Instagram better (meaning safer) for teens through age 18, what would it be?

    • Lisa Harmon says:

      Abbie, I’m very impressed with your wisdom and insight. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. After immersing myself into the instagram and Kik world the past few days (after an unfortunate incident my daughter experienced), I’ve been shocked and disappointed with the current culture. You give me hope that there are kids your age with their head on straight. I don’t mean to sound so negative but my heart kind of aches for the loss of innocence at such young ages. I hope when my kids are 15 they have your common sense! Good luck to you!

    • Ananymous (did I spell that right?) says:

      Great job! A lot of parents and or teens don’t know about that wonderful thing called privacy settings, but you really take care of yourself! Nice!

  61. Eva G says:

    Thanks for this valuable information on Instagram safety for kids. I’ve posted a link to it on Bubblegum Post http://bubblegumpost.com/2012/09/sweet-photography-with-fruity-chewy-candy/

  62. Girl that uses instagram says:

    There is nothing wrong with instagram!!! i am 12 and i love it!!! Its safe if u only follow ur friends!!!

    • Janet says:

      I heard on Fox News yesterday that they are selling people’s pictures for advertisement. It was in the Vicksburg paper where this girl was on Instagram and this man came to her home killed her family took her but she got away. Brittney was telling me that there’s this man Millard works with his daughter just had a birthday party and she posted her party pics on Instagram and now she’s missing, this happened last wk. also talk to sis Jill she deleted her account because early in the morning hours there was someone getting into hers. I can’t remember all what she told me but she said their pics was a lot of  skulls and wicked looking pics. Then there was this girl she kept getting messages from this guy asking her to post pics of her with no clothes on, she got scared went to her mom with it and they caught him and 3 other guys involved

    • ........ says:

      um excuse me girl that uses instagram there are many dangers so dont even!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. CompelledToCommentBecauseOfSimon says:

    Simon, Please do not have children. You are ignorant and immature.

    • Scott Booth says:

      I think there’s a group for overbearing hover-parents. One-Million-Moms, I believe?

      Instagram is a free app with tremendous potential for creativity, but no matter what you do or where you go, there will be the negative, “darker green grass” sides.

      Instead of banning your children from doing everything, I genuinely suggest supervising the whole situation and letting them learn on their own. It’s 2012. Things are going to change.

      And as for role-playing, I cannot think of a better way to encourage imagination and build literacy skills and vocabulary than role-playing. It’s constant reading and writing. It’s nearly unbelievable that role-playing would be a priority for a child’s protection.

      The best way to encourage children’s development in a well-rounded manner is to seriously oppress them from an early age and never let up.

      Cheers. Scott Booth. Virginia. CHILD.

      • Lisa Harmon says:

        I’m wondering if you have children? Everything you say makes perfect sence until your child becomes a victim as mine did. Fortunately I caught on
        early and was able to spare her from a direction she had no idea she was headed for. I work full time, am a wife, with a home to clean and laundry and cooking to do. And have an elderly Mother. I keep close tabs on the kids homework, social life, extracurricular and sports, there is NO time for me. Now I’m supposed to take on another part time job of monitoring kids and their “followers” on instagram, kik, Facebook, texting and whatever else comes along? No thanks!!!!! I just shut the whole thing down! They can read a book, use their imagination in other ways. I’m sickened by what I’ve learned and experienced in the past week about all of this!

  64. Gisella Larson says:

    Thank you so much for providing us with an accurate description of what Instagram is all about. My 9 year old son signed up for it on his iTouch and I thought it was a camera program like CamWow. Two days into his account, I see it blinking at night so I go to check it out. It was a message from a 32 year old woman on Instagram contacting my son. On top of that, my son had been having conversations with a 50 year old man. Further investigation led us to pictures my son had seen. PORN. Thank you Instagram for providing such an outstanding program to our children. NOT. My son did not remember his login or password so I emailed Instagram (the ONLY way to contact them, no phone number, etc.). Filed a complaint with them twice asking them to delete my sons account. No response. I drove into San Francisco today (about 40 minutes from me) and headed to their building. Locked door but intercomed the receptionist. She was very rude after hearing my story and hung up on me after telling me that I had to request in an email. Duh. Did that twice. So, called the SF Police Dept and two officers came right down. They escorted me to the building where we were able to get the CEO out front. He apologized and took down all my info. Told them I didn’t want to start a fight but I had to do what a MOTHER has to do. All ended well..exeptionally well since I just received an email from them stating my sons account has been deactivated. Point? Fight for what you believe in. And don’t ever let your child use this app.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Wow, Gisella! What a terrible experience all around, and how scary for your son. Good for you for going to the police and for doing the right thing. I hope you share your experience with other parents so they learn. I’d like to share your story with more parents across my parent network. Here at Yoursphere, we believe that all apps should be rated and certified to help parents know which ones are appropriate for their children.

    • Kelly says:

      Gisella, I am so sorry for what you and your son have had to go through. It is a shame! I just recently found out my daughters have been on Instagram also. I too thought it was just an app for taking and editing pics. I checked for anything appropriate on their ipods and am happy to say I didn’t see anything, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t run across something. I am taking action and limiting them using Instagram. Thank you for sharing your story ~ you go!! I had an issue with a pornographic website that is sponsored GoDaddy. The web address was identical to my kids’ school web address except for it was .com instead of .org and I contacted the school and the local police, unfortunately it got me nowhere. The police said that nothing could be done. I’ve tried other avenues also to get something done about it but have been unsuccessful. The porn website even has the word ‘school’ in it!?! It makes me so sad to know there are kids out there trying to log into their school website but instead a porn site comes up. If anyone has any suggestions for what I should do next, I would be SO grateful!! Thank you.

    • Kelly says:

      I’m sorry, that should read “I checked for anything INappropriate on their ipods . . “

    • Scott Booth says:

      Hi! Scott again!

      So, let me get the story straight here. You didn’t delete the app like you easily could’ve to avoid the whole situation. You didn’t even inform your son of any of the dangers of social networking (especially ones that revolve around photography), and you didn’t even throw away the iPod like you may needed to in emergency-cases?
      You went straight to their headquarters. They didn’t respond to all of your defensive emails because they are not responsible for who comments on what pictures. I’d be rude, too, if you came to my house for reading what my opinions are.

      Also, I think that if your son used Instagram enough to talk to all of these people on photos, you must be completely daft to believe him when he says “I don’t remember my login information”.
      You deserve an award for being such an out-going mother.

      Cheers! Scott Booth. Virginia. CHILD.

      • Lisa Harmon says:

        I’ve informed, warned, and lectured my children about pedophiles, predators and internet safety until I can’t stand hearing myself. My beautiful, intelligent, but sometimes impulsive and curious daughter just recently nearly became a victim of a very smooth online predator. I happened to check her phone that night and pretended to be her with her “new bestie” who wanted “cuddle time”

        Low and behold they ARE Children. They don’t always listen, comprehend or obey. Telling someone how to drive a car and sending them out to navigate are two different things. There are many roadblocks and wrong turns on the Internet highway. Our children are often too immature, shocked and intimidated to use and exercise theand enter judgement. others may be too tempted and intrigued to resist the temptations of exploring these areas they know they shouldn’t.

        It’s completely understanding that a 9 yr old would forget his password! And why would you throw an iPod away?!

        I’m sure that somehow you will blame me and find my parenting at fault here. That’s OK, I understand. Before I became a parent I was a harsh judge of other parents, thinking I had all the answers. The hardest job in the world proved me a fool.

      • Ananymous (did I spell that right?) says:

        Totally agree… made a big deal out of something you could have solved in 5 seconds.

  65. Lynn says:

    I am baffled by this app! My 11 year-old step-daughter, who lives with her mother, is obsessed with this as well! I don’t get the “roleplay” aspect of it and why children so young are “roleplaying” I also don’t understand when they say, do you wanna hang out….I mean, where do they go, and another app I don’t get is KIK. Unfortunately, her mother, whom she lives with is very lax, has no parental controls on the phone and when my husband tells her to take the phone away, call ATT to block the app, she does nothing….it is only because of her older sisters concern that we found out she is “chatting” with some kid who posts pics of some other kid (music kid) and says he is 14 one week, 22 the next week, 9 the next week….and we have discussed online safety with her and the fact that this probably isn’t some kid. It’s exhausting, if only her mother would parent her….but she doesn’t and I’m afraid something will happen to my step-daughter.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Here’s what I recommend you do: Tell her dad that you’re concerned and you’d like to activate the safety settings on her digital devices. Does he pay for her cell bill and Internet access on the computer? If he does, this makes it very easy :

      When she’s at your house and you have access to her phone for awhile, enable the safety settings on her phone; you can find the instructions here http://goo.gl/IPCLK . Then, use parental monitoring software on her phone and the computer she is using to chat with the person you reference (I recommend the following products that I’ve personally used and the team here has reviewed http://goo.gl/lKnkN.)

      I recommend you talk to your husband about talking to your step-daughter’s mother to let her know that these safety measures are in place. Hopefully her mom will agree that her daughter shouldn’t meet random strangers, watch an R rated movie, or ride in a car without a seat belt. You’re taking the same safety precautions with these steps.

      Let me know how it goes!

      Best,
      Mary Kay

  66. Mama loves her family says:

    My hubby and kids love instagram. Just found out my hubby , who is struggling with Internet porn addiction, has figured out that you can easily access porn through the hash tags. And you can easily erase your history too. We tried to block it with the iPhone and iPad settings but they didn’t block anything from coming through. My family will no longer be using this app, and I am strongly encouraging others to boycot this app until its’ creators do something to protect our youth and others from this toxic smut. If anyone knows how to block this stuff on instagram, let me know!

  67. Laura says:

    I will be removing my daughter’s Instagram account as it has turned into a nightmare. She is 12 and going into 7th grade. She is not allowed to have a Facebook account until high school to avoid bullying issues, but due to my lack of knowledge (I thought Instagram was basically a glorified camera), I allowed her to have an account. In the last week, she has been indirectly contacted by what appears to be a predatorial pedophile posing as a 1 Direction radio contest to which girls send their photos. And she also experienced the middle school drama that I was trying to avoid by the lack of a Facebook account. It is the communication that bothers me. Posting a pic is one thing but then being contacted and the ability to have two way conversations is very dangerous, especially for teens.

    • Shannon says:

      Amen!

    • Swimminglady says:

      I couldn’t agree more .I didn’t know what instagram was but thought my daughter(12) was sharing holiday photos with her friends.She got really upset one evening last week and I found out that one of her so called friends had been posting nasty comments.She has now shut down the account and I have read more about instagram which makes me realise it is a very bad idea.I thought Iwas protecting her by saying no to Facebook but realise I need to be more vigilant about anything she does online.

    • Kelly says:

      Wow! Laura and Swimminglady, I could have written this! I too haven’t let my kids have a Facebook account because of so many issues, but did let them use the Instagram app, not know they could interact with people they don’t know. I now have their ipods in my hand, and am considering not giving them back.

      • Mary Kay says:

        Kelly, Gisella and Swimminglady -

        I know it’s tough, but I applaud you for getting more involved in your kids online activitities. It’s critically important, for the reasons you’ve discovered, to be a digitally involved and digitally aware parent.

        Kelly, I encourage you not to take away the iPod Touch. But, before you give it back, safety-enable them so they are family friendly ready. This includes:

        1. Replacing the installed browser with another browser app like the one from AVG that will block pornographic or other inappropriate sites. Or, you can disable the browser all together.

        2. Turn on the parental controls for their iTunes account. You can find out how to do that here with step-by-step instructions: http://goo.gl/QUFVM

        3. Activate the rating filters for apps, movies, music and more. You can find out how to here: http://goo.gl/pwrVb

        I believe our kids should enjoy and reap the benefits of a healthy technology experience, but only with involved parents like you! Good work, moms. :)

        Best,
        Mary Kay

        • Scott Booth says:

          Hello, Mary Kay!

          It’s so satisfying to know that there are such happy mothers out there who know just how to get into their children’s privacy!

          I’m baffled at the fact that they would get their 9-year old sons and daughters iPhones as it is!

          Also, as I may have stated previously, times are changing. If these parents of middle-school students truly believe that their children don’t have Facebook accounts, they should think again.

          Take it from a public school student. There’s an estimated 140 MILLION users of Facebook per MONTH. That is such a massive number.

          I beg that these parents stop underestimating children.

          Cheers. Scott Booth. Virginia. CHILD.

          • Mary Kay says:

            Hi Scott:

            Thank you for participating in the conversation and for sharing your thoughts.

            I definitely definitely agree with you that times are changing. In many ways, all thanks to technology.

            We believe that technology and social media and all the great apps should be enjoyed by kids, teens, and their parents.
            What we’re encountering now with this particular app (Instagram) that’s amazing and fun, is the unintended consequences
            of its’ use by an audience it wasn’t intended for. As well, p arents giving their kids tech tools but aren’t digitally
            aware, digitally involved or digitally educated in their children’s online activities. In addition, many parents aren’t having the conversations with their kids that they need to be.

            It’s not about saying ‘no’ to technology for kids and teens. It’s about saying ‘yes’, but with the right level of parental involvement. Parental involvement doesn’t mean snooping, spying or invading privacy if done right. It means being responsible parent.

            Mary Kay Hoal

          • Ellyka says:

            I beg to differ. Being a responsible parent MEANS snooping, spying and invading privacy, and YES heaven forbid even taking the technology away completely. I find it interesting that strangers think it’s okay to tell parents not to do these things but yet its not okay for a parent to tell their children ‘too bad, not happening!’??

  68. Youth Leader says:

    The danger that I have found with Instagram is the hashtags associated with inappropriate pictures. None of the “privacy settings” prevent teens from clicking on the star icon which shows them what pictures are popular across the entire platform. All it takes is for a young boy to click on a popular picture that his eye will be natuay drawn too and he can view all the hash tags associated with that picture. (IE a picture of a sports car can have hash tags like “#sexy” or “#model”) With just one click on one of these hash tags anyone can view soft core pornography and worse. To make matters worse, all you have to do after viewing in appropriate contact as a teen is just click the back button and there is no history of what you have looked at! If you have the app, this is accessible period. I have not found a way to disable the “popular” tab. This being said, I still use instagram but am very much aware of the risks associated with any app that has access to the Internet with 0% accountability and think parents need to be well aware of this risk.

  69. Marie says:

    I noticed my 14 year old son and his friends are all using instagram. He signed up for it on his phone. To monitor him, I had one of his friends show me how to use instagram myself and got set up. I saw all of his photos and lots of his friends photos, too. Nothing bad or inappropriate, however, now my son has blocked me. What now?

    • Lou says:

      Seriously? What now?

      YOU are the parent! You need to take charge. He is ONLY 14….

      Demand that he unblock you or take the darn iDevice away!!!

      • Karen says:

        EXACTLY….could not agree with you more. We have three children under 14. They all want to use it but we banned it. We are parents, not their friends. Yes, it is a hard job but your children will benefit in the long run. Let this empower all the parents that feel pressured to give in to social media.

        • Simon says:

          And WHY ON EARTH would you like to monitor your sons activities on instagram? What the f*ck happened to privacy? Seriously, let him do his thing. When I was 14 i had already seen most kinds of pornography and naked content on the internet, I’m now 20. I’m good. I do not rape women, neither do I abuse drugs or commit crime. You parents have to understand that the world out there differs from the childhood dream-scenario world you grew up in. Things change and there is nothing you can do about it.

          Sure, there is the occasional boob or bikini-picture floating around on instagram, but don’t you think your son would benfit from seeing some nudity once in a while? The female body is a magnificent and stunningly beautiful creation, and nothing your son would burn in hell for looking at.

          Loosen up, in Sweden (where I live, sorry for the bad English) you are legal to have sex when you’re 15. That’s only a year from now to your son, think about that for a moment.

          • Swedish Chef says:

            relax, Swede. We’re good parents here in the US. A 14 year old is still a child and parents have every right to know and monitor what they are doing.

          • joscelyn says:

            You haven’t lived long enough to know the long-term psychological stuff that comes from what you’ve seen. I saw what you did, when you did, and lived 15 years longer, and reaped what I sowed. And no, I’m not a religious prude, either. This stuff follows from human nature.

            Seeing something beautiful is not the same as using it to jerk off.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Instagram is a fun and creative tool, but it’s also its own social network. The majority of users use it for its intended purposes. I wish, however, that they took into account the teens that would be using the product and automatically set their profile to private. This would also protect these same users from stumbling upon the content we’ve seen on the application.

      Regarding your son, I recommend starting a conversation with him by asking why he blocked you.

      • Sue says:

        I agree that a conversation is necessary and open lines of communication with our children are a must; but I also agree that if he refuses to “unblock” you he should lose the PRIVILEGE of using the app AND the device. Children must remember that all of this STUFF they have is a PRIVILEGE and that NONE of it is either necessary or required. Parents can and should restrict and remove as necessary.

    • Girl that uses instagram says:

      seriously u wonder why we don’t get our parents permission!! thats crazy! of course he won’t want u 2 follow him! PIVACY!!!

      • Mary Kay says:

        Hi “Girl that uses Instagram”. You’re right. Instagram is a super fun tool to use. I agree. The team here agrees.

        The problem that we’ve discovered is this: when 10 million people are all in one place and no one cares about the kids and teens, or thought about them using the service, problem arise. Major problems.

        Every 12 year old like yourself should totally be able to use a service like Instagram. 100%….just when:

        1. It’s made with your safety and well-being in mind.
        2. You don’t have to lie about your age to use it.
        3. You don’t have to sneak to use it.
        4. You don’t have to hide it from your parents.

        You’re 12. You already know that if you’ve had to lie, sneak or hide something from your parents, you already know that something – whether it’s Instagram today – or something else tomorrow- is wrong.

    • Scott Booth says:

      Well, “Girl that uses instagam” (pivacy) represents the children very, very poorly here, so I’m afraid this is already a losing battle for me, but I’m open to debate as it is. The awful grammar and literacy just goes to show that she’s probably irritated that her own parents are plotting on an overbearing website about taking her privileges away.

      As a child, it’s just a strange concept of actually sharing little details with my own parents. I don’t want to tell my parents who I’m “crushing on”. (Quotations used to fit into parent lingo) I know it seems like they should just tell you everything, but they don’t want you in their lives. Let them lead on for themselves and discover and learn. That’s all being a child is about.

      I’m going to take a shot in the dark to also say the majority of commentators on this site have also “rummaged” through their childrens drawers while they were at school in hopes to not find anything incriminating?

      No other children are going to come to my help, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to give many facts, but this is my voice. I’m speaking.

      Cheers. Scott Booth. Virginia. CHILD.

      • joscelyn says:

        Dude, we were all kids. We all know the distorted vision of childhood common in this “modern” world. The idea that children don’t want their parents in their lives is a symptom of how screwed up we are. “Crushing” is stupid, modern, & hurtful. Wanting your family to butt out is stupid, modern, & hurtful. None of it will bring you peace or happiness, or benefit you in the long run.

        I know how you feel; I felt the same way. It’s totally messed up.

      • Sparkles says:

        I agree completely. Having a crush on someone is NOT a bad secret, but it may be embarrassing to have your parents know. It’s okay to supervise your child on Instagram, but also, acknowledge the fact that if they are 12, 13, 14 etc., they are growing up and creating their own identity. That’s what being a teenager is about. So if you do happen to see they like so and so, don’t ask them about it. You make think you’re being helpful, but it will make them wary of your supervision and cause them to block you.

  70. Stacy says:

    I’m just wondering what type of “friends” your editorial staff has if they encountered bestiality pictures while the app brought up users WHO THEY ARE ALREADY IN CONTACT WITH via Facebook/Twitter/email. Interesting.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Stacy – You’re right; Instagram connects you with your current Facebook and Twitter contacts through the Instagram network, however, that doesn’t stop you, me or a child from viewing other Instagram profiles/photos. The profile with the bestiality photos was just one of the more shocking profiles that we ran into early in our review. That being said, when our editorial team reviews an app or software product, they make sure they cover it from as many angles as possible in order to give parents a comprehensive understanding of the product.

  71. Galen & Christy says:

    Is anyone running into obsessive behavior with Instagram used as a role-playing medium? My daughter has gotten caught up in the craze around The Hunger Games. She is getting more involved in a community of people who take turns posting pictures from the movie or other images they attribute to a scenario in the movie, then take turns writing stories that could stem from the picture. We are not comfortable about the community aspect of this, as well as the emotional relationships that can be built in an anonymous environment where you really have no idea or way to verify kids, teens or adults are who they say they are.

    We’re trying to curb this quickly, but in a way that doesn’t crush her spirit or inspire rebellious behavior (something she can be prone to do by nature). Thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Galen & Christy

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Galen and Christy,

      From what you shared, it sounds like your daughter has a natural interest in creative writing. Perhaps you can encourage her enjoyment in writing by steering her in a direction that offers a platform for aspiring young writers. She can showcase her writing talent in an environment meant for kids and teens vs. a community intended for adults and subsequently filled with adult content and people.

      Mary Kay

  72. Tayira Gutierrez says:

    I just found out by my 12 year old daughter she had set up a profile on this instagram . She was told about it by a friend, and thankfully her and I have a great communication so she told me, not thinking anything of it. She begans to tell me how she is friends with some kid supposedly 12 years old in the UK and how they have been commenting on eachothers picture. 12 years old???? seriously???shows me the mentallity she has. My husband began to explain to her how she really does not know who is on the other end, and who exactly is viewing her pictures. My husband and I are not ok with this. privacy or not. Nothing is 100% . We are not happy about having our daughter pics out on the internet making it easy access for all these sick individuals that we all know about. not happy about this at all. We will be deleting all her photos and info today.Thank to this information I understand more about this

    • Kim says:

      Wow, that sounds like my daughter. She is 12 and opened an instagram account without our permission and although I knew she had it and gave her many “leads” to tell me about it, she didn’t. She didn’t know how to make her account private until I started following her and now she blocked me! That shows how little she knew about this program – before she saw me on there, all her stuff was open to whomever.
      The iphone will be removed today as well as the program. Thank you for this informational site!

  73. Jean says:

    My 11-year old downloaded Instagram on her iPod touch – after seeing me use it on my iPhone! I will need to review some guidelines with her now, after reading your article and some of these comments. Thanks for the great tips on your site.

  74. KST2012 says:

    I’m seeing major bullying going on by 12 and 13 year olds whose parents have no idea that Instagram is anything more than a fun camera app.

  75. Tom S says:

    My kids 9 and 11 were able to sign up for Instagram by BYPASSING the age settings in the prefs settings. The app DOES NOT ASK for age at sign up. I’, gonna let them use it but monitoring content. They will prolly just get bored of it and stop using it before I need to intervene

  76. Riley Darras says:

    Very nice post, I certainly love this website, keep on it.

  77. I was very pleased to find this web-site.I wanted to thank for your time of this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  78. buy hcg says:

    I have a MacBook computer and I want my pictures that are on my computer to be on my Motorola Razr 2 v9. I have a memory card and a memory card adapter. When I put the card in the adapter, the computer recognizes it. And the pictures that I have on my phone can transfer to the computer with no problem. But the pictures on my computer won’t transfer to my phone. All that shows up is a big red “x” on a black screen. Am I doing something wrong? The phone company is AT&T..

  79. SAM says:

    My 5th grade daughter and friends (age 10) purchased instagram app with itunes giftcards. Her friends thought it was an app to take & share pics and at first didn’t realize they could post comments. I had no idea that it was a pseudo-facebook app. (We are waiting until she is 13 to get a FB account.)

    I did not know that this app would have her following and being followed by hundreds of people she didn’t know…..and posting comments…..it was a alarming.
    Inappropriate language and pictures were being posted…… We came across your
    website and found this article to be very helpful!!!! Keep up the good work!!!

    Thank you

    • Mary Kay says:

      Thank you, Sam.

      Be sure to check out Yoursphere.com with your daughter. It’s our social network just for kids. It’s free with lots of age appropriate and fun things to do! We comply with children’s privacy laws and since she is under age 13, we will request your permission for her to join. Profiles are always private, and no one can follow, comment or friend your daughter unless first approved.

      We’re glad this article was helpful to you!

      Best.
      Mary Kay

      • SAM says:

        Thank you. We will check out yoursphere.com

        I agree with a previous post that the app BYPASSES age. A group of moms and teachers signed up to follow our kids/students and were not asked age. Not sure why?? If you have information on this please share.

        The moms and/or teachers have been able to read post and figure out why some kids are distracted in class, acting out, or not getting along. Sharing information has helped the school get an idea on particular clicks, aggressive behavior and outright misconduct. Your website has been forwarded to the school administration and hopefully will be distributed to help navigate parents to privacy controls.

        Personally, reading post together with my daughter has brought up important conversations regarding “personal self-esteem/self-worth” and popularity not being based on someone liking or disliking a picture or post. Tweens are not proficient in perspective taking (in fact their just learning) which leaves them vulnerable….even if they are good bluffers.

        Thanks again for your website.

      • Laura says:

        I thought you could set the instagram to also make sure no one can follow, comment or friend your daughter unless first approved. So what is the difference between the two? If you do not want your child to accidentally come across inapproiprate photos then they could not use the internet. So I believe educating them instead of completely isolating them best protects them from pretitors.

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