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Child and Adolescent Counseling Blog for Lisa Klipfel, MFT
5 Instagram Tips for the Technically Challenged Parent

Instagram is a photo sharing site. It is social media. People create an account and "people" follow accounts that they like and they are "followed" by other people. You cannot approve who follows you and who does not, like in Facebook, unless their account is private.

1. Set Account to Private
When a child sets up an instagram account it defaults to "public". That means that every photo they post is available to anyone who wants to see it. That includes adults, children, people out of state, out of country and so on. I always recommend that accounts utilized by those under 18 have their setting set to "private" photos. There are pluses and minuses to this. The plus is that not just "anyone" can "follow" them to see their photos. The user can pick and choose who can follow them. The downside is that a child needs to learn how to discern who is okay to allow them to be followed. If a child just says "yes" to ANY follow request, the option to having your account set to "private" is fairly useless. It is your job as a parent to teach them how to evaluate if a request to be "followed" is worthy of acceptance - despite not really knowing what that means yourself. Secondly, when your photos are set to private, you are typically not eligible for entry into "contests" because the contest organizer cannot necessarily pull up your photos to see if you have promoted them. Another downside, is the general feeling of wanting unlimited followers. It is a sign of our generation. When someone has "lots" of followers, it is equivalent to being popular or a validation of worth. It's important to teach your kids that number of followers does not define them.

2. Turn off Photo Geotagging
When you take a photo on a smart phone, it will save lots of bits of information: date, time, location. When the photo is posted on instagram, you can turn on the "map" that allows the photos to report the location of where it was taken. If you have a 10 year old posting a photo from a smart phone, it's possible that he/she is telling everyone in the world where they are at that moment in time, or where they live without actually posting an actual address. My recommendation is that you go into your settings and turn of geotagging on your photos. You may want to turn it on when you go on vacation, but then turn it off again when you are home.

3. Comments can be Deleted
There will be times when peers or unknown persons make a comment on your child's photo that is inappropriate. This can be a simple as a derogatory statement, to name calling to flat out cyberbullying. Know that the user can simply swipe to delete the comment. Also know that deleting comments can create an uproar and that sometimes commenting that a comment is inappropriate is more of an educational tool than deleting. Let your child know that they are in control of their account and not their friends.

4. Followers can be Blocked
If you have a follower that is consistently making inappropriate comments or cyberbullying. That user can be blocked by hitting the button on the top left that looks like a share button. You would only want to block an individual that is being inappropriate or consistently a problem. This is for a specific person or account.

5. Posts can be Flagged as Inappropriate
If you find a post that seems inappropriate, such as nudity, bullying, etc. That particular post can be flagged, with that same button in the upper right corner - "report inappropriate". If a user has too many posts that are inappropriate, the user may have to deal with instagram directly, but that is not your issue to concern yourself with.

Remember that instagram can also be a source of inspiration. Kids can follow their favorite athlete, mentor or hero. They can follow companies in their area of interest. It's important to look at social media as a teaching tool for your child and also a connection with the world. Although you may not understand the ins and outs of instagram, it's important to learn with your child and guide them along their journey.

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