It’s a small loophole but one that definitely poses a threat to your child’s online safety. While your child is able set her Instagram account settings to private and only accept “followers” and “friends” she knows, her Instagram bio is still public by default and short of deleting it altogether, there’s no way to hide it.
Instagram is now one of the fastest growing, most popular social networks for tweens and teens. It allows kids to post both photos and videos and communicate through “likes” or “favorites” and comments with other users on Instagram.
This year, Instagram reported phenomenal growth and activity with:
- It has 100 million monthly active users.
- 40 million photos posted per day.
- 8,500 likes per second.
- 1,000 comments made per second.
That’s a lot of activity—and exactly why it’s more important than ever to be certain that her Instagram bio is safe. Here’s how:
- Approve your child’s profile picture. If she is 13, make sure her photos don’t make her look 20. Make sure her expression is not suggestive or revealing in any way. Note: Her definition and your definition of “suggestive” will differ so hold your ground, parent.
- Edit bio or omit entirely. Do not allow location, hometown, age, school, church, sports team or any other kind of personal information to be in your child’s bio. Predators and stalkers know how to piece together small nuggets of information into a full picture fairly easily.
- Do not allow links in bio. Often an Instagram user will put a link in their Instagram bio to their Facebook page, their email address, a Formspring or Ask.Me page. Do not allow this kind of access to your child’s personal life online.
- Turn off Geo-Tagging/Location-based services for Instagram
- Let them see you monitoring. We recommend digital safeguards since studies show that say 50% of all teens say they would change their online behavior if a parent were watching.
If your child has not set her Instagram feed to private (only approved followers), this is a great time to do that. It’s easy.
Here’s how to make an Instagram account private:
• Go to your profile by tapping in the lower-right corner
• Tap ‘’Edit Your Profile’ next to your profile picture
• iPhone/iPad: Scroll down to ‘Posts Are Private’ and toggle the switch. On Android: Check the box next to ‘Posts are Private’
Once you turn on Privacy, anyone who wants to see your posts, or followers and following lists, will have to send you a follow request that will appear in your News feed, which you can then approve or ignore. To approve or deny a follow request, just tap on the username that appears in the request. You’ll then be brought to their profile page and at the top of this page you will see an “approve” and “ignore” button.
Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family.
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