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Instagram…All my kids do is post pictures or do they?

Instagram is a great platform to share pictures and for the younger users to start using social media. The kids all love it and in most cases it is one of their first experiences with social media. If accounts are set to appropriate security settings and parents have discussed social media guidelines, have location services turned off and know the passwords, what harm can there be in posting images?

As a parent have done all the right things, you know the passwords to your kids accounts, you follow them you see what they are posting and who they are connected to, but do you really know how they are using Instagram?

Are you aware that you can send private messages and group messages through Instagram?  It’s called Instagram Direct and allows users to send private messages or group messages up to and including 15 other users. Up until this feature was added the only way to view users posts was if your settings were set to public then all images/videos were available for anyone to see. The other option was to set your privacy settings so that users would approve who could see their posts, but even then when you posted all images/videos were available for all your followers to see. With Instagram Direct this is not the case you are now able to send private images/video’s to anyone.

If someone you follow sends you a private message it will go directly to your inbox and you will get a notification. If you were to get a message from someone you don’t follow it would go to a pending queue. You then have the option to accept, reject or ignore it. If you accept it all other private messages will be accepted from that user. If you reject it all future messages would also be rejected.

Once you have viewed the image, the sender does receive notification that you have viewed the image or video. You, as the receiver, are able to add comments that are visible to all who have been added in the message.

As a parent the safety concern is that the kids know how to do this and are using it without parent’s knowledge that this is an option. Parents look at the child’s account from their personal Instagram account and see that the pictures/videos your children are posting are harmless; there are no mean comments, etc. You then log out and that is the end of it until the next time you decide to take a look. The problem is unless you actually log into your child’s account with their user name and password any private message they have received is not visible to you. Unfortunately this is how the kids have started to use it. It is within this hidden feature where they are hiding cyberbullying and mean, cruel comments or posting inappropriate images.

We recommend that you know your children’s passwords and log into their accounts to check what they are posting in private chats as well to see that they are not being bullied or receiving images/videos that are inappropriate in nature. We also believe that your children should know that you have their passwords and that you will be checking. It is all part of starting to create a positive digital footprint and making them accountable for their posts and online activity. If you see something that is unsettling, report it. We encourage you to discuss social media safety with your children and help them stay #sociallysafe online.


Stacy Maynard & Kerry Hills are moms with successful social media businesses. We have a passion for helping children understand how to use social media safely.  We have joined together to implement into classrooms and the community our Socially Safe, Socially Fun, Social Media programs.

We are Moms of kids between the ages of 8 to 15, so we understand the need to help our kids stay safe and create a positive digital footprint.  Social Media is not going away and we are passionate about teaching our kids how to use it, have fun and stay Socially Safe.

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