Instagram is still one of the most popular social networks. However, the multitude of possibilities that Insta offers also harbors some risks. Parents should make sure that the app is set to child-proof when they log in for the first time. This can prevent dangers such as cybergrooming, hate messages or cyberbullying. In this section, we provide you with important information that you should know if your child uses Instagram. 

What is Instagram?

After registering with Instagram, you can create your own profile, similar to Facebook. Here you can enter a profile picture and personal data, such as your place of residence or certain preferences. All uploaded posts are then stored in the profile, which can be viewed by other users depending on the privacy settings.

Young people from the age of 13 can give free rein to their creativity by using functions such as Stories and Reels. They can get in touch with other users via the comment function and chat.

In addition to many companies, numerous influencers also use Instagram to earn money by promoting products. They try to influence the young generation with their posts. Negative influences can often be seen through distorted representations of reality and problematic content and role models . You can find out more about influencers in our related topic area.

Young people are constantly under pressure to measure themselves against others. The available editing filters add to this pressure. The "beauty filters" can distort faces so much that you no longer recognize yourself. Our material "Selfies, sexting, self-portrayal" can provide assistance in making children aware of this at an early stage and making it clear that not everything they see online corresponds to reality.

Safe use of Instagram

Privacy and data protection

For underage users, the default setting "private account" has been in effect since August 2021. This allows users to decide for themselves who can see their own content. However, this setting can be changed at any time so that the profile is public.

Parents should make absolutely sure that young people keep the "private account" and do not reveal too much about themselves. This can prevent risks such as unwanted contact and cybergrooming . Nevertheless, you should make your child aware of unwanted contact. In general, children and young people should break off contact immediately if their chat partners' questions become unpleasant or they feel harassed.

If young people are nevertheless confronted with inappropriate posts or messages, Instagram offers the possibility to block and/or report posts, accounts or messages. In this way, they are no longer displayed and may even be completely deleted from Instagram.

Regardless of the pictures and videos of other users, young people should also pay special attention to what they upload to Instagram themselves. To feel safer here, you as parents and the young people themselves can ask the following questions, for example:

  • Does the picture allow conclusions to be drawn about the place of residence or similar?
  • Is the post possibly too revealing?
  • Do people appear on the file who have not been asked for consent beforehand?

If you can answer one or more of the questions with yes, you should refrain from publishing. In this way, many problems can be avoided.

The posts of the people you "follow" are displayed in the so-called Instagram feed. They can be liked, commented on or shared. They can be sorted by the day of publication, the posts of "favorites" or by default by an algorithm. Instagram uses the data it has already collected about a person to decide which posts are more likely to be of interest to that person. Instagram collects this data regardless of the personally set data protection or privacy settings.

In our Instagram flyer, young people can also find important safety and privacy settings and helpful tips on what to do in the event of (cyber)bullying or harassment.

Security and login

After registration it is advisable to set the  two-step authentication . This way you can protect your account from strangers in addition to a secure password. If someone logs into your account using a "foreign" device, you will receive an SMS with a login code that you need to log in.

Manage content

The apparent anonymity and constant availability of the Internet lowers the inhibition threshold for insults, hate and bullying. Cyberbullying then often manifests itself in the form of derisive comments on photos or insulting private messages. 

To counteract this, in addition to reporting messages and comments, Instagram offers the option of completely hiding comments and like counts under own and other people's posts . This option can help young people avoid constant comparisons. In addition, different filters can be activated toautomatically hide offensive comments. Comments that contain words that are most frequently reported to Instagram can also be hidden. If there are certain words that should not appear under your own posts, a manual filter can also be activated.

Manage usage times

In order to better monitor how much time you spend in the app, Instagram provides some functions. On the profile, you have the option of viewing your own activity, limiting your usage times with reminders, and turning off push notifications. These functions are very helpful for children and young people themselves, as well as for parents, to keep an eye on their usage behavior.

In episode 4 of our podcast "klicksafe asks..." we address the question "How can we increase our digital well-being?" With communications scientist Dr. Ruth Wendt, we try to find answers to how we can increase our digital well-being. The focus will once again be on the question of how children and young people can learn to use digital media in a healthy way.

Control function parent supervision

Since June 2022, Instagram offers the possibility to keep a better eye on your children's activities with "Parental Control". With the function, you can, for example, set time limits and set break times, check reported content and accounts or get an overview of your children's followers. Private messages are excluded from the supervision.

The function requires the consent of both parties and you also need an Instagram account as a parent. You can send your child a request to activate parental supervision via the "Parental supervision" item in the settings. It can be terminated at any time and ends automatically when your child turns 18.