Talking to teens on instagram: a parent’s guide

It is often difficult for parents to always know exactly what their children are doing online in an ever-changing digital landscape. For this reason we have written this guide. We’ll explain what Instagram even is, give you tips on how to start a conversation with your child, and introduce you to some of the tools we’re using to keep your child safe.

From parents for parents

If you’re reading this, you probably have kids. Surveys have shown that many parents are concerned about their children’s safety on the Internet. We’re parents too, and we work at Instagram – so we take this concern very seriously. In our daily work, we always think of our kids first. Being a parent is a huge responsibility, but at the same time it offers incredible opportunities. But these very opportunities also present us parents with a whole new set of challenges. Our children are the first generation of so-called digital natives, whose lives take place both in the real world and online.

We know the feeling of not knowing exactly what teens are doing online and why they spend so much time on their phones. It often seems like teens post photos and videos without thinking about it. But in reality, many of them think very carefully about what they share online. Because we ourselves have yet to come to terms with all the innovations, we are often unsure how to talk openly about them with our children and protect them appropriately. We share these concerns, as do all of the staff at Instagram.

That’s why we’ve written this guide. We know that many parents shy away from talking to their kids about these issues. That’s why we want to prepare you as best as possible for such conversations. That’s where this guide should help you.

We see it as our responsibility to provide teens with a safe community on Instagram where they can connect and share with other teens. For you as a parent, we’d also like to give you all the information you need to guide your kids through this process. From our perspective, it’s first important to understand why teens use Instagram, and to know what tools are available to help them have a positive, intentional, and safe experience on the platform.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a social media app where users share photos, videos and messages with each other. Whether in Stories, in the Feed, in Live, IGTV or Direct: We want to connect people with people and things that matter to them. The most important requirement for this, in our view, is that Instagram provides a safe and positive environment where all users can be themselves. The minimum age to have your own Instagram account is 13 years old. Teens use Instagram on many occasions: They celebrate important events with others, share experiences from everyday life, keep in touch with friends and family, build their own communities, and get to know others who share their interests. The glossary at the end of this guide will help you understand what the Instagram app offers and how teens use it.

Privacy settings

There are a number of tools teens can use to very precisely control their online identity and digital footprint. One of the first topics you should talk about is whether the account should be public or private. When they realize they are in control of who can see and interact with their posts, it will encourage them to stay true to themselves on Instagram.

First, decide together if you want your child’s account to be public or private. With a private account, your child must first approve people who want to follow their account and can remove followers at any time. Content your child posts to a private account is only seen by people who have been approved beforehand. If the account is public, anyone can see the content your kid posts in Stories, the feed, or Live. In addition, anyone can follow your child on Instagram without confirmation. If your child already has a public account, he or she can always switch to a private account and vice versa. In general, children can always remove followers, specify who can post comments, and much more. Your child can also turn off the "Show activity status" option so friends can’t see if he or she is currently online.

In the settings under "account privacy", your child can choose whether their account should be public or private.


Your child can block accounts they don’t want to interact with. This means that certain people will then not be able to see or comment on his or her posts, stories and live broadcasts. When you block an account, the other person doesn’t find out about it. Likewise, you can unblock them at any time.

To block someone, your child taps on "…" in the respective profile and then on "Block".

control interactions

Bullying has no place on Instagram. Our policy prohibits creating an account, posting photos, or writing comments that have the goal of bullying or harassing people. It’s important for teens to know that they can report accounts, photos, videos, comments, messages, or stories that are bullying or harassing others in the app. To do this, they tap "…" in the upper-right corner of a post or profile, swipe to the left on a comment, or swipe to the right on a comment. hold down a message and then tap "Report". These messages are completely anonymous. We never share your child’s information with the person reported.

Your child can specify who can comment on their photos and videos. In the "Comment Settings" section of the app settings, you can set the following: Allow comments from anyone, from people he or she has reported to, or from people he or she has reported to. and their followers, only from people he or she follows. follows them yourself, or only from his or her. their own followers. Your child can also remove all comments from their posts.

Select "comment settings" in the settings section. Your child can tap "Allow comments from" to specify who can comment on posts.

Your child can block accounts he or she doesn’t want to interact with. Comments from blocked accounts will no longer be displayed. Your child can disable comments on all posts or on individual posts.

To block comments, your child simply selects "Block comments" in the comments settings.

Settings allow you to control what content you see and filter out comments that are abusive, bullying, or harassing. We have developed filters that automatically remove offensive words and phrases as well as bullying in comments. Your child can also create their own list of words and emojis that they don’t want to appear in comments on their posts under "Filters" in the comments settings.

When your child taps "Manual Filter," a box appears where they can enter any words, phrases, and emojis they never want to appear under their posts.

Manage screen time

There is no universal answer to how much time you should spend on Instagram at most. However, there are a number of tools that can give you, as a family, an idea of how much time your child spends in the app and help you limit that time. This way, you can determine together how much time you think is right for them.


In the "Your Activity" dashboard, your child can see how much time they spent on Instagram that day, during the last week, and on average per day. Your child can tap and hold the blue bars to see how much time they spent on Instagram on a given day.


Your child can set a daily time limit on Instagram and be reminded when it’s exceeded. Talk to your child about how it feels to spend a lot of time on the app. There may be a time when your child realizes there’s not much new to discover? If you come up with a time limit together, you can also learn more about what your child does on Instagram all day long.

The "Mute Push Notifications" feature allows your child to disable Instagram notifications for a specified period of time. Normal notification settings are automatically restored after the preset time has elapsed.

Your child can tap "notification settings" to mute their notifications.


Some teens don’t feel comfortable until they’ve actually seen and interacted with all of their friends’ posts. Therefore, under the last new post since their last visit, we show the notice "You are up to date". So they can be sure not to have missed any news from their friends or communities.

"You’re up to date" is automatically enabled.

10 questions that break the ice

Together with social media and education expert Ana Homayoun, M.A., P.P.S., Author of Social Media Wellness, we’ve developed ten questions to help you start a conversation about Instagram with your child. By asking these questions, you can better understand how your child uses Instagram and ensure that his or her use of the app is positive.

Glossary of Instagram terms

If your child finds other Instagram users disruptive, he or she can block them. The blocked person won’t be notified about it, but they won’t be able to interact with your child in any way anymore.

A comment is a reaction to content someone posts on Instagram. Comments are displayed in the feed under posts. Comments can consist of words or emojis.

We want to encourage a positive and diverse community. All Instagram users must adhere to our community guidelines, which ensure safe and open interactions on the platform. This means that nudity and hate speech, for example, are prohibited. Violations of these policies may result in content being deleted, accounts being suspended, or other restrictions being applied.

On Instagram Direct, teens can send messages to individuals or to groups. You can also share photos and videos with individuals only.

In the "Explore" section, your kid sees photos and videos from accounts and tags that might interest them. "Explore" looks different for each user. The content we show depends on which accounts and hashtags your child follows.

In the feed, teens see posts from the accounts they follow. From a teen’s perspective, feed posts are mostly for special content – like celebrating something. Feed posts can be photos or videos.

On IGTV, you can find videos in portrait format of up to one hour in length. Your kid watches videos of their favorite creators here and can create their own longer content. IGTV exists as a standalone app and within Instagram.


Your child can start live broadcasts to communicate with their followers in real time. In Live, teens can invite friends to broadcasts, co-host live sessions, leave comments and send hearts. You can also video chat with up to four people in Direct.

Posts are the content that you post in your feed or Stories. These can be videos or photos.

On your child’s Instagram profile, friends and followers can find their posts and view their Stories. A short profile is also a part of the profile. If your kid’s profile is private, only the profile picture and profile are visible.

Your child can report content to let Instagram know that a post, account, or comment is inappropriate. Your child can report any post or comment they think violates our community guidelines.

Stories disappear from the app after 24 hours. However, your child can archive them. Archived, expired Stories are only visible to your child unless they share them in Story Highlights. Anyone who sees your kid’s Stories can take a screenshot of it.


We wrote our guide for parents together with leading youth protection organizations.

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