8 Ways Kids Are Using Instagram to Bully

Discover how kids are using Instagram to bully other people

teen girl on smartphone with laptop in front
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Kids today love technology. Not only are they able to stay in touch with friends, but they also can share a little bit about themselves in the process. One of the most popular ways for teens to stay in touch and let others know what is going on in their lives is through Instagram. Instagram is an online photo sharing and social networking site that is hugely popular. 

In addition to photos, Instagram also allows teens to record and share 15-second videos.

And while this social networking program is a fun tool for teens, just like any other social networking site, it can be used to cyberbully others. Here are eight ways teens are using Instagram to cyberbully others.

Bullies can post a malicious or embarrassing photo of a target for all of their followers to see. They can do they same thing with videos. One way kids gather their material is to catch others in compromising photos or videos known as “blackmail moments.” Then, they post these photos and videos to Instagram. Another tactic used to embarrass others is playing the “slap game.” This involves one person slapping someone while another person films the victim’s reaction. This reaction is then posted to Instagram to shame and humiliate the target.

Bullies can write a caption on a disgusting or insulting photo and tag it with a target’s username. For instance, a teen might find a picture of a nerdy person picking his nose.

They then post the picture with a caption that says: “this reminds me of @username.” Much like on Twitter when they subtweet, kids also might post something about your child without ever mentioning her name. Yet, she and everyone else at school knows it is about her. 

Bullies can post cruel remarks under a photo that someone else posts.

For instance, if your teen posts a picture of herself modeling a new outfit, others might take this opportunity to make rude comments like “you’re so ugly” or “lose some weight.” There also are mean girl sayings on Instagram. An example might include a girl commenting on another girl's photo with a comment like "girl did you know that your boobs go inside your shirt." The idea is shame another girl for the way she looks.

Bullies can use the “Add People” feature and tag an image with the target’s name. If a bully is not following the victim, she will not be notified about the photo nor will she be able to see the tag, caption or comments. As a result, the victim can be harassed and humiliated without even knowing why. Additionally, this type of bullying may even filter over into the hallways at school. Your child will have no idea why people are laughing and pointing at her until someone clues her in.

Bullies can add a mean hashtag under a photo your child posts. While just about any hashtag can be used, here are a few examples of what kids might post: #loser #whatnottowear and #ugly.

Hashtags allow people to search for different topics, like #whatnottowear, and your child’s photo could become exposed to a broader audience. This exposure can cause a teen to feel like the entire world is laughing at her.

Bullies can create a fake account in your child’s name. There are two ways bullies exploit your child with a fake account. They either upload mean and embarrassing photos of your child or they post mean quotes and photos about other people. These rude comments look like they are coming from your child and other people think your child is the one behind the bullying behavior. This can damage your child’s online reputation and cause her to be ostracized.

Bullies can post screenshots of private text messages. In other words, her private thoughts suddenly are made public. For instance, if your child texted someone in confidence about her difficulties with another student that conversation can be copied and posted to Instagram. Now can see her thoughts including the person the private conversation was about.

Bullies can take and post embarrassing screenshots while using FaceTime. Using FaceTime or another video chat option, bullies catch their targets in embarrassing moments. They then post these photos to Instagram to humiliate the person. For instance, if your child FaceTime’s in her pajamas, with a low cut tank top, or with facial cream on her face, someone could take a screenshot and post it to Instagram.

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