Instagram's New Safety Features for Kids: What Parents Need to Know

Updated: April 4, 2022
Do Instagram's new safety features make Instagram safe for kids? What to know about Instagram for kids.
young girl taking selfies on instagram
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As a parent, the idea of your child using social media platforms like Instagram may make you cringe. But, statistics show that at least 72 percent of American teens between 13 and 17 use Instagram. That’s why parents are always looking for safety features to protect their children from inappropriate content and cyberbullying. Many parents are also concerned that the images portrayed on Instagram can be damaging to their child’s mental health and body image.

In response to all of these issues, Instagram has rolled out some new safety features, giving parents more control of their child’s Instagram account. But, will they be enough for parents to feel more comfortable with their children using the social media site and keep kids safe? We’re going to take a look at these new safety features so you can decide if more parental controls are needed and decide is Instagram safe for kids.

What Are Instagram’s New Safety Features?

instagram features

Meta, Instagram’s parent company, has introduced what it calls “Family Center”. Essentially, this is a hub of safety tools that parents can use to see what their children are doing on Instagram as well as Meta’s other social media platforms.

In an online post, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, commented on these new features, saying:

“This is just one step on a longer path — our vision for Family Center is to eventually allow parents and guardians to help their teens manage experiences across Meta technologies, all from one central place.”

The Family Center includes an education hub with videos and tips for talking to teens about online safety and digital wellness as well as these features:

  • Tools to allow parents to see their child’s screen time on the app and set time limits for screen time
  • Receive updates about what accounts their child is following and who is following their child
  • Receive notifications about apps their children have reported

For now, teens have to enable these safety tools within their own accounts when their parents request them. By June, parents will be able to activate this feature on their teen’s accounts themselves, giving them more control of the social media app.

There are also plans on the horizon to build more parental controls. These include giving parents the power to restrict app usage to certain hours. This would mean no Instagram when your teen has #insomnia and #can'tsleep. When it comes to privacy settings, Instagram plans on implementing a setting that would allow more than one parent to co-supervise their teen’s account because we all know two sets of eyes are better than one.

While these new features may give parents more control over privacy settings and give them more access to what their child is doing while on Instagram, it doesn’t solve the problem of younger users on the social media app. Although kids need to be 13 to have an Instagram account, many young people have found ways to get around this. Kids can lie about their age and get a private account in a matter of seconds.

Instagram had announced that it would use artificial intelligence and machine learning to try to verify users’ ages, but the company knows that kids are tech-savvy and can still get around these safety guards. The company also planned on starting a version of Instagram for those under 13, but that was put on hold. Parents and lawmakers were critical of the new social media platform. There’s been no further talk about whether that platform will get up and running.

While these new safety measures are seen as a step in the right direction, some believe that Instagram is a little late to the party. Two years ago, TikTok rolled out tools to allow parents to better monitor what their kids were doing on the app and have since updated those tools. There is also a “TikTok for Younger Users” which restricts messages and comments. YouTube also has a separate platform for users under 13.

Current Safety Features on Instagram

Instagram’s new safety features are in addition to the ones it already has. Currently, teens get signed up for a private account which means only followers can view their content. Adults can not send direct messages to teens who aren’t following them.

There is also a “take a break” feature for young Instagram users. This encourages users to step away after they’ve been scrolling for a certain amount of time. Although it won’t kick them off the app, it may serve as a reminder that they’ve been on it for too long.

The Bottom Line: Is Instagram Safe for Kids?

liking photos on instagram

All parents must decide for themselves if Instagram is safe for their kids and whether they want them to use it. Instagram’s new safety features give parents more options to control their child’s private account, but we all know that there are still plenty of dangers lurking.

There are still concerns about kids getting access to material that isn’t for them and about younger kids getting accounts when they shouldn’t. These are ongoing struggles for Instagram and other social media platforms that companies continue to try to improve.

As a parent, being aware of your child’s online activity can prevent them from being cyberbullied as well as from seeing and seeking inappropriate content. Having regular, open conversations about internet safety and what’s out there can also help to protect them and help them to make the right choices about their online activity.