Is Instagram Safe for 10, 11 or 12-Year Olds?

instagram-example-confThe stated age limit for users of social photo-sharing site and app Instagram is 13 years of age, but a quick perusal indicates that there are many younger users.

Related: Is Instagram Safe for 13-Year Olds?

Many parents seem to believe that it is appropriate for younger users, or kids are joining without telling their parents. Either way, parents should be aware of a few relevant facts. According to Instagram’s Privacy Policy:

Instagram does not knowingly collect or solicit any information from anyone under the age of 13 or knowingly allow such persons to register for the Service. The Service and its content are not directed at children under the age of 13. In the event that we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13 without parental consent, we will delete that information as quickly as possible. If you believe that we might have any information from or about a child under 13, please contact us.

As you can see, there is no reference to kids’ safety, cyberbullying or other harassment. The age limit is driven by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a bill primarily designed to protect kids from advertisers, not predators of cyberbullies. Encountering predators and bullies are two very real risks for Instagram users.

A few other Instagram features are also not ideal for kids, in our opinion:

instagram-geotagsAll photos might be public – Depending on how you set up your account, any picture taken with or posted to Instagram could be viewable by all users, even if you haven’t friended them. Since users generally want their photo handiwork to be viewed by others, this can be an easy one for young users to get wrong.

Geotagging – Users can reveal their exact location by Geotagging photos as they post them. A child who is unaware of this could be leaving too much location information open to the public.

Adult content – Instagram does not allow nudity, but there is an abundance of risqué or inappropriate content on the site.

Beauty contests – Using hashtags like #RateMe or #HotorNot, users can submit photos and be rated by other users. Cyberbullies can be merciless in deriding users who post selfies, whether the picture is attractive or not.

Like most social networks, Instagram does not enforce that age limit. Anyone with a smartphone and an email address can sign up, and claim that their age is 17 or 77. We encourage parents to ask their kids if they are using Instagram or pick up their phone and check for themselves. It’s not a safe place for young kids.


Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

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2 Replies to “Is Instagram Safe for 10, 11 or 12-Year Olds?”

  1. What you say about them following COPPA brings up a side effect for the law and really any law. The FTC giving rules means the services are going to tend to stick with them and not add or takeaway.

    My feelings about preteens here is the same for YouTube and somewhat the same as twitter. The difference with these services is that the child is a content publisher and the content is them. This simply isn’t a kid hanging out, they are producing content and others can respond including what you point out with cyberbullies. But there’s also a risk with perverts pretending to be kids and making friends with kids on these services. It’s this interactivity that concerns me and I do not think preteens should be involved with manipulators that contact kids online. So best to not allow it but if you do watch it like a hawk.

  2. My 10 year old son asked could he down load Instagram, I agreed as he said he was chatting with friends from his class, we discussed the safety points of having such account, he said that he would have an account set as private so only his friends could see his pictures of his selfies with many different hairstyles and he could only see their posts.
    I was checking his account, I pressed the magnifying glass icon, scrolled down quite harmless posts then OMG the most inappropriate sexual post was showed as a video, I felt sick to my stomach, immediately deleted the account, others parents please be warned…………

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