Do your kids or tweens have Instagram accounts? Here are 6 compelling reasons to keep your kids off Instagram until they are older. (#3 and #6 are particularly disturbing!)

Instagram Is No Place for Kids

I love Instagram. It’s my new favorite social media obsession. But perhaps all my “Wait, wait, let me Instagram this” has come with a price.

Now my ten-year-old daughter wants an Instagram account too. Apparently “all” her BFFs have accounts, and according to her, “It’s possible to set up an account as private so only ‘approved friends’ can see her photos.”

Oh, well in that case, okay!

NOT.

Fortunately, this is one of those rare moments when I actually know more than my three children about technology.

So my “Aw HAYLE no” is not just a knee-jerk reaction, but a thoroughly researched explanation of why her Valencia-filtered dreams will have to wait.

Here are the top six reasons why my tween daughter shall not have an Instagram account anytime soon:

1. It’s Against the Rules

The very first item listed under Instagram’s Basic Terms of Service is that you must be 13-years-old to use it. Breaking these kind of rules is a slippery slope, particularly when kids with burgeoning senses of right and wrong are watching.

2. Privacy and Safety Concerns

Even if you set your child’s account as “private” and disable the geotagging feature (for the love of God…please do that!), it is far too easy for children to accidentally (or purposefully) change those settings, which can expose them to all kinds of dangers. There are also reports that since Instagram’s default setting is “public,” every operating system upgrade automatically resets private accounts to public ones. No thanks.

3. Violence

Even with private Instagram accounts, there is no way to shield users from seeing other people’s inappropriate photos or violent, hateful, disturbing comments. For example…

Instagram is no place for kids via In The Powder Room

 

The photo above was one of Instagram’s recently featured photos on the “Explore” tab, which is easily accessible to all users.

4. Duckfaces

At the time of this writing, there were 3,386,449 photos tagged with the hashtag #duckface.

I’m trying to teach my daughter that beauty comes from within; that being smart, strong, kind, funny, and unique is beautiful; and to have the courage to stand up for what she believes even if everyone else is doing something she feels is stupid or wrong. This is the exact opposite of the message she will get from being visually bombarded by three million duckfaced selfies.

5. Bullying

Even though the terms of Instagram prohibit abusing or harassing other users, ask any mother of a teen girl on Instagram about cyber-bullying and you’ll hear stories that will turn your stomach. A recent article out of St. Louis quoted a middle school-aged Instagram user who wrote, “I take pictures of people from ladue and if your ugly you’ll get posted!” (sic) There is also a popular activity called #EliminationGame where users publicly eliminate “unattractive” followers.

6. Ginormous Dicks All Up in Your Face…Both Literally and Metaphorically

Instagram is riddled with nudity and adult content, which are nearly impossible to avoid.

The other day I did an Instagram search about my state, Georgia. All I wanted to do was strategically tag my pretty photos of a local waterfall so that other interested travelers could find them, and as I was scrolling through the #Georgia photos, I was treated to this random full-frontal:

 

Instagram is no place for kids3 via In The Powder Room

Hubba hubba. And I thought everything was bigger in Texas.

So parents, beware. Get to know the social apps your kids want to use. And don’t be afraid to say no. I guarantee your kids won’t be the only ones without Instagram accounts.

Also, for a good time, try #Georgia. Clearly, we’re more than just The Peach State.

 

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published June 27, 2013. My daughter is now 12-years-old now and she still doesn’t have an Instagram account. Featured image credit: iStock.com/CraigRJD.

Check out our “Parenting In the Powder Room” Pinterest board for more Parenting tips, wisdom, humor, stories, quotes, inspiration, and survival tactics! Follow In the Powder Room’s board Parenting In the Powder Room on Pinterest.

Leslie Marinelli is a writer, wife, mother of three, toilet humor aficionada, and transplanted Pittsburgher trapped in the suburbs of Atlanta. She’s the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of In the Powder Room, the creative force behind the award-winning tell-all mom blog, The Bearded Iris, and the editor and co-author of In the Powder Room’s hilarious bestselling anthology, “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

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  1. says

    My son just turned fifteen, and just now got an Instagram account. We’re still staying clear of Facebook drama. He started high school this year, and I told him he would have plenty of drama in person without adding it with multiple social media accounts. Good job for standing firm amongst the sea of other influences and making your daughter wait. :)

    • Leslie Marinelli says

      Thank you Christy! By high school, I think the stuff they could see on Instagram is much less shocking. I have a 9th grade son too and he hasn’t asked for any social media accounts yet. Frankly, I’m relieved. It seems like my 11-y.o. daughter and her friends are much more interested in social media.

      • Julie says

        We have the same dynamic in our house. I’ve been resisting this for my 11yo daughter for all the same reasons. Thank you for spelling out why my gut was right! (Too big, but right.)

  2. says

    Well said, sister. I just had a discussion with my friend whose 6th grader is begging to have an IG account. The mom stood strong and said no, and has incurred the wrath of her daughter for weeks and weeks. She is starting to waver. I think I’ll send her this post and the wavering will be no more.

    • Leslie Marinelli says

      Thanks JD! It’s hard, especially when so many of our kids’ peers are using social media. But I suspect if more parents knew the risks, they’d reconsider.

  3. says

    Wow! I am one of the last people NOT to have an Instagram account. The reason is that I am lazy and old, but these are way better reasons! I do kinda wanna check out more about GA though. “pretty sure this is not what Ray Charles was singing about”…hahahahahaha! My children are NEVER getting on social media!

    • Leslie Marinelli says

      I didn’t like it for the longest time, and then I got more into it. I haven’t used it a lot over the last month, but looking back, it’s really nice to see a snapshot of the past couple of years in one easy spot. However, I have heard nightmares about people whose accounts get deleted without warning…so if you do ever use it, keep copies of your IG pics outside of the app. (I think there’s a setting that saves them to your camera roll.) And yeah, I bet of lot of ladies have Georgia on their minds…and now we know why.

  4. Momof4 says

    Instagram isn’t the problem. While I agree with restrictions and monitoring – not helicoptering – of social media, and I do think elementary school is way too young for these type of things –if you google #georgia and search images, they aren’t all that great, either. If the kids want to find it, they will find a way. It’s more about the conversations we have to have with our kids and to keep the dialogue open instead of creating a “forbidden fruit”. I can’t even imagine when my kids have kids what the internet will be like.

    • Leslie Marinelli says

      I agree with you about the conversations and that creating a “forbidden fruit” just makes it more appealing to kids, and they do find a way. I’m just explaining why Instagram in particular is not as child-friendly as a lot of parents seem to think it is.

  5. Courtney says

    More validity for my ongoing argument with my sixth grader. NO…..and NO!!! Also heard a new story on NPR of the dangers of social media and cyber stalkers. Let me reiterate my resounding NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

  6. says

    My kids do have IG but they are private accounts and I monitor who follows them and who they follow. If I saw that one comment on my daughters IG I’d freak out. Luckily so far we haven’t ran into any problems with it. My kids don’t post very often though. My son only post cadet stuff. I agree though, if you are just going to throw cation to the wind, your kids shouldn’t be on IG, also FB and Twitter…heck any social media site isn’t for kids if not monitored by parents daily.
    Also the apps…eek!! We don’t give our kids the passwords so they can’t download anything w/o us putting the password in, including IG and FB.

  7. says

    Wowsers. My kids aren’t getting on social media til I did. 40yo. Not a problem. Haha! I’ll have to face it sooner or later but will definitely have rules. It will be a cold day in hell before any pre-teen of mine is active on social media.

    What Momof4 said is right about any type of electronic media search – my kids still have to tell me what their search terms are for me to ok before they can hit that enter button. We’ve had ‘the chat’ (internet use not sex) about safe use and I am SO GLAD I still monitor that until they’re old enough. The things they coulda seen!

    I must admit I’ve only just joined IG and I thought it wasn’t as prone to dirty ol’ GA-type of collages! I wonder what’ll ‘pop up’ if I search for my home – New Zealand? Inappropriate pics of naughty hobbits?

    Ew.

  8. says

    Good piece. I reluctantly agreed to an Instagram account when my daughter was 13 1/2 and swore it was the only way to keep in touch with faraway camp friends. (I’d said no prior, but she’d reached an age where I thought she could handle it.) No joke, there were tears the very first day due to misunderstanding followed by blocking.. As we all remember, it’s hard enough being a middle-schooler, jeesh.. She’s less interested now, and we take social media breaks together. Good luck, mamas.

  9. Marie says

    “And don’t be afraid to say no. I guarantee your kids won’t be the only ones without Instagram accounts.”

    Yes! This!!! It really IS ok to say no, even if everyone else is saying yes.

    We gave our teens smartphones and learned the hard way that it’s just too much for them to handle safely and responsibly. They have cheap, $20 no-frills phones right now, can only call or text, and they are surviving fine. Honest.

  10. says

    I have come across this article at the perfect time! My 10 year old is currently trying to convince me to let her have an Instagram account (like “everyone” else). She insists that she’ll use the private setting and only interact with her friends. I have agreed to consider it but after reading this, I feel reaffirmed in my opinion that she is too young. Thanks for doing the research for me, Leslie!

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