Instagram App

Instagram is a social media app that shares photos and videos through Stories, Feeds, Live, IGTV, or Direct messaging.

Instagram (Rated 12+, Social media, Image and Video Sharing)

Instagram is a social media app that shares photos and videos through Stories, Feed, Live, IGTV, or Direct messaging. The minimum age to have an Instagram account is 13.


Instagram is one of the most common social media apps found on teens’ devices, which puts it on the front lines of cyberbullying, threats, and sexting. Instagram does not have parental controls in the traditional sense, which makes it more difficult for parents to manage and support their child on it than an app like TikTok.

There is a lot of inappropriate content on Instagram, including pornography. Unfortunately, you cannot filter it out.

Instagram has an instant messaging feature called Direct Messages. You might have heard teens talk about “DM’s,” this is slang for Direct Messages. If you only follow your child on Instagram, you are not seeing what is happening in the DM’s. Your child knows this; so many of the problems are here. You can chat with one person or in a group. You can send text, images, or videos.

Instagram has a messaging feature called Vanish Mode. It is Instagram’s take on Snapchat’s disappearing messages. Turning on Vanish Mode allows you to send messages that will self-destruct after everyone in the message thread has seen them. Like Snapchat, Instagram will send a notification if the recipient takes a screenshot (nothing will notify you if someone takes a picture of a screen using a different phone’s camera) of the message sent in Vanish Mode. Also, you can report a message as abusive even if it has already disappeared. You cannot turn off the Vanish Mode feature. You cannot stop your child from sending or receiving disappearing messages. If your child has a private account, strangers can still message them.

Parental Controls

As mentioned earlier, Instagram does not have parental controls. Some settings will make your child safer on Instagram. Unfortunately, your child can change any location to their liking. At the time of this book’s publication, there is no way to lock those settings from being tampered with. I hope Instagram will change this shortly.

The Account Privacy setting is the first setting to making Instagram safer for your teen. Your child’s social media accounts, not just Instagram, should be set to Private. Follow the steps below:

Second, manage interactions in the Comments settings. Follow the steps below:

Knowing how to report abusive comments, accounts, or inappropriate content is an important skill. All reporting on Instagram is anonymous. Encourage your teen to write content or behavior that is harmful. Here is how you do it:

How to write the entire Account

Tap the button in the top right corner of the offending user profile.

Tap Report. Then tap Spam or It’s inappropriate (depending on the reason for the report), and then choose the follow-up questions that best describe why this Account should be reported. You can also block this Account here too.

How to report individual posts

Tap the button in the top right corner of the offending post.

Tap Report. Then tap Spam, or It’s inappropriate. Then, choose whatever path best fits the reason for your reporting the post. You can also block this Account here too.

How to report individual comments

Swipe left on the comment itself and tap the exclamation icon.

Tap Report this Comment, and then follow whatever path best fits your reason for reporting the comment. You can also block this Account here too.

Secret Instagram Accounts “Finstas and Spam Accounts”

It is not uncommon for teens to have more than one Instagram for innocent reasons. They are commonly known as “finstas” or fake Instagram accounts. It comes down to secrecy and images, but mostly paintings. Teens will create multiple accounts with their followers in mind. They may have an understanding that everyone at their school follows. The pictures and stories posted in a place like this will be highly curated and edited to make the teen look as fantastic as possible. The images and stories are misleading and make the person look more impressive and fun than in real life. Wonder why teens get depressed when they look at their social media? They think their life is horrible based on what everyone else posts, but of course, the person they admire is doing the same thing when they look at their social media. Fame and beauty on Instagram is an illusion.

Teens will create other accounts, often called “spam,” for a much smaller group of friends. They may need more than one spam account to accommodate different friend groups. For instance, a student might have a spam account for their friends on their sports team and another for their church youth group. Teens may even create a statement that they let their parents know about and carefully only share content that is “parent safe.”

How will I know if my child has a secret Instagram account?

First, I recommend logging into your child’s Instagram account on your device. The Instagram app will allow you to have up to five accounts logged into your app simultaneously. Instagram doesn’t care if two or more people are logged into the same Account simultaneously. Follow the steps below to add additional charges to your Instagram app:

  1. Go to your Profile page by tapping your profile icon button in the bottom left corner of the app.
  2. Tap on your username at the top of the app.
  3. A panel opens at the bottom of the app. Tap Add Account to add another account to your app. You must have the username and password to do this.

Discovering secret accounts

Follow the same steps on your child’s device. All of their accounts will be listed just above the Add Account button.

Are there parental apps that will help me manage Instagram?

Yes, parental control/notification apps are available to help you protect your child on Instagram. Bark is the best one on the market, and I’ve been using it on my children’s phones for a couple of years. It works on both iPhones and Android-powered phones. It will run in the background, passively monitor direct messages and comments, and then alert you when it detects dangerous activity.

How and when should I give Instagram to my teen?

I first recommend waiting as long as possible to give them Instagram. I’d recommend your child be in high school before they get Instagram. Whenever you decide to provide them with Instagram, tell them there are a few rules they must follow if they want an account:

  1. You (as the parent) get to know the username and password to ALL of their accounts, even the
  2. The Account must be
  3. Their followers must be people they know in real life (IRL) and people they trust.
  4. They are not allowed to use Vanish Mode or any other disappearing messages.
  5. You (as the parent) have 100% access to their phone and Instagram account anytime you desire to

Lastly, tell them there will be consequences if they don’t live up to these rules. Tell them upfront what the results will be. Whatever it is, make sure it is a sufficient deterrent to disobeying the rules and something you can reasonably follow through on. You must follow through on the discipline.


Safe for children 13+ with parental controls and parental supervision.

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About the Author

Clayton Cranford
Clayton Cranford is a retired Sergeant from Orange County Sheriff's Department in California and owner of Total Safety Solutions LLC. Clayton is one of the nation’s leading law enforcement educators on social media, child safety, and behavioral threat assessments. Clayton is the author of the definitive book on cyber safety for families, “Parenting in the Digital World.” Clayton has more than 20 years of teaching experience and was awarded the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council, and the 2015 American Legion Medal of Merit. Clayton was a member of the County's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, School Resource Officer program, and Juvenile Bureau.