10 Ways to Protect Your Teen From Bullying on Instagram

Discover what you can do to prevent bullying on Instagram

teens taking a selfie
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Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app that teens around the world have embraced. They enjoy posting pictures, making comments and communicating with friends. But it also can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying. As a result, it is important to teach your kids how to manage it.

The best way to combat cyberbullying on Instagram is to talk with your kids about the dangers. Also, educate them on how to use the technology safely and responsibly.

 Just like with other social networking sites, much of the protection parents can provide begins with basic Internet safety. With proper education, monitoring and communication, you can help prevent bullying in your child’s life.

Here are ten ways you can protect your kids on Instagram.

1. Monitor Instagram as well as other sites and applications your kids are using. This includes having access to their IDs and passwords. Make sure your kids are posting appropriately and not oversharing. If you see something questionable, remind them that everything they post leaves a digital footprint behind. Prospective colleges and employers sometimes monitor social media to learn more about their applicants.

2. Limit the number of “selfies” your child posts to Instagram. Selfies are pictures kids take of themselves and post to Instagram. Too many selfies can open your child up to bullying. Remind your kids that bullies can take screen shots of selfies and download them to their computer.

When they have a lot of selfies online they are giving bullies more ammunition to use against them, especially if the selfies are silly or can be taken out of context.

3. Consider developing a technology-use contract. This behavior contract can be used to address a variety of behaviors including time spent using technology.

You also can incorporate your rules about downloading apps and what you feel is acceptable to post. Use the contract to solid your rules regarding technology use and the consequences if these rules are broken.

4. Keep the lines of communication open. For instance, talk with your kids about the followers they approve on Instagram. A good rule of thumb is to only allow followers that they know in real life. It’s also a good idea to follow up to be sure they are still following these guidelines. You should also talk to your kids about what they are posting and what their friends are posting. These posts are good conversation starters for bigger issues.

5. Make sure your kids know they should not geotag photos and give away their locations. Geotagging allows others to know where your child is. This makes it easier for bullies and predators to find your child. Be sure that geotagging is turned off on Instagram. It is also a good idea to post pictures after an event or activity is over. If your child posts pictures while they are still at the event, bullies and predators will know where they are and will be able to locate them more easily.

6. Remind your kids about the principles of digital etiquette and the need for being respectful, even online. Kids need to follow the same rules of courtesy online that they follow when speaking with people in public. Be sure your kids know what is acceptable and what is not. Keep in mind it is much easier to say things from behind a keyboard and kids are often braver online than in person.

7. Familiarize yourself with the signs of bullying. Remember, most kids don’t tell adults when they are being bullied. So you might have to play detective in order to spot bullying in your child's life. For instance, if your child is constantly checking Instagram or appears distraught or upset after being online, it is time to have a conversation and find out what is going on. Also be aware that Instagram can cause your child to experience envy and jealousy especially if your child consistently compares herself to others online.

8. Be sure that the privacy settings on Instagram are changed from the default of public to private. Doing so will ensure that your child’s photos can only be viewed by friends and followers. Also, explain to your teen that making photos public gives her very little control over her photos but by making them private, she can at least control who sees them. While she cannot keep people from copying and sharing her images, she can at least know who has access to them.

9. Block and report Instagram users who are sharing inappropriate pictures, making rude comments or bullying. To do this, go to the bully's profile page and tap the button in the top right corner of the screen. Then, tap “block user” or “report user.” Although it may take some time for Instagram to respond to your complaint, you have at least notified them of inappropriate behavior.

10. Report the online bullying behavior to your child’s principal. Many times, bullying on social media filters over into the halls of your child’s school. Additionally, some state laws allow schools to discipline students who cyberbully others. Regardless, your school's principal should always be alerted to cyberbullying. While they may not be able to specifically address what is done online, they have information that may be useful if additional bullying occurs.

Remember when it comes to cyberbullying, Instagram and other forms of social media are just a vehicle bullies use, but they are not the problem. Cyberbullying occurs because of the choices bullies make. 

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