Is Instagram safe?

Lifestyle, Photo, Social Media

Is Instagram Safe for Kids? An Instagram App Review for Parents

Overall Rating:
⭐ 2.0 / 5

Updated December 2, 2021 | IG, Insta


Overall Rating: ⭐ 2.0 / 5

Recommended Age: 15 and up

With more than a billion active users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the entire world. In addition to its regular users, countless brands, celebrities, and retail giants can all be found on this photo- and video-sharing app. Users can view, comment, and like posts by others in a scrollable stream called a “feed.” Also popular are Instagram’s Stories, which resemble Snapchat with their vanishing messages and photos/videos. Instagram Reels, the short videos set to music or audio clips, are very similar to TikTok.  But is Instagram safe for kids?

Kids may have multiple Instagram accounts to post different types of content. On their public-facing account, they’ll post typical or harmless things. On their private accounts, however — the one the parents may not see — they may share more inappropriate content with their friends. These are known as “Finstas,” and while the term is a little outdated, the concept definitely isn’t.

Harmful Content 😲


Instagram’s search feature means that kids can find inappropriate content like pornography, nudity, drug/alcohol content, and violent content in just a matter of seconds — it’s that easy. Technically, a lot of this content violates Instagram’s community guidelines, but new posts and accounts are added every single day, and it can take a while for offending posts to be flagged and taken down.  

Bullying and harassment are also big concerns on Instagram. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for kids to receive hurtful comments or direct messages from their peers. Instagram has tried to address this through a feature called “nudging“. This is essentially a notification that will pop up if a user types out a potentially offensive comment, reminding them to be respectful before they post. While some stats show that this has helped change the behavior of Instagram users, the possibility of cyberbullying is still there and your kid could still face rude or harmful comments while on the app.

Also, thanks to Instagram’s vanishing message feature, kids can send and receive potentially explicit photos and texts. For families that have a hard stance against Snapchat, it’s important to know that Instagram is no better when it comes to risky messages that don’t leave a trace.



Predation 🚨


Predators often can be found wherever there are kids — and kids are definitely on Instagram. Children with no age-appropriate safety settings in place or without private accounts are vulnerable to manipulative adults who may comment or message them. This could lead to a grooming situation.

Instagram has been so known for its predator problem, in fact, that the company was spurred in 2021 to take greater steps to help protect kids. New accounts are private by default for children under 16, and some adults with questionable Instagram activity are blocked from interacting with teens.

Positive Value 💙


Instagram really isn’t a go-to educational app, and as far as entertainment goes — memes, travel photos, celebrity posts — the risks may outweigh the benefits for many families. But there are two primary ways Instagram can be beneficial to kids.

First, although Instagram allows kids with an interest in photography to really express their creativity. The app got its start as one of the first widely available photo-editing platforms. And while the app is known for its pre-made filters, kids can also manually adjust the settings of photo properties — much like you can in Photoshop. 

Another positive benefit of Instagram is that, for many social circles, it may be an important way that kids keep in touch with each other. They do this by not only viewing each other’s stories and posts, but also through group chats. In this way, kids often rely on Instagram for emotional support and guidance.

Privacy 🔒


Users can make their Instagram profiles private, though they still may be found via search if they use their real name or a recognizable handle. Also, unless you actively disable DMs from strangers, private accounts can still receive them.  One way to double down on your child’s privacy is to require a private profile and also make sure they don’t use an actual photo for their profile picture or a variation of their name for their username.

It’s also a good idea to remind them not to put their school, sports league, or other info that may be used to contact them in their bio, which is viewable by everyone whether or not the account is private.

Parental Controls ✅


Instagram does have a fair amount of parental controls settings available to help protect your child while they use their app. The supervision feature is the strongest parental control, where a parent can connect their own Instagram account to their kids, to monitor the activity more closely. One major issue with this feature — and the additional parental controls listed below — is that these can be turned off at any time by your kid because there’s no lock or pin code feature. 

From the Settings menu in Instagram, you can:

  • Hide offensive content through keyword blocking
  • Control who can see your child’s posts and stories
  • Allow or block comments from individuals or entirely
  • Manage who can message your child
  • Allow mentions 
  • Limit unwanted interactions
  • And more

Bark also provides help with managing Instagram. We’re here to help you keep your kid safe by allowing you to:

  • Block Instagram entirely, if needed
  • Manage when your child can use Instagram throughout the day
  • Monitor your child’s posts, including images, videos, and captions (Android and iOS)
  • Monitor direct messages (text only) and searches (Android only)

We’re continually advocating and working for Instagram to allow iOS monitoring.

So, should my kid download it?

Is Instagram safe for kids? Probably not until they’re about 15. Even with private accounts in place, Instagram exposes kids to lots of strangers and a ton of inappropriate content. The potential for cyberbullying is also pretty high.

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