Hidden Red Flags That May Be Lurking on Your Teen’s Instagram Account

If you have a teenager who uses social media, the chances are good that they have an Instagram account. Instagram is a photo sharing site that allows users to upload pictures so that their friends can see and comment on them. The Instagram app can be downloaded onto any device, so your teens can view and share pictures from their phones or tablets. While sharing photos with friends may sound harmless, teens have been known to use the social media site to bully each other. Here are some signs that your teen is being targeted on Instagram.

Comments and Hashtags

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Used properly, Instagram can be a fun way to connect with friends.

A common way to harass a user on Instagram is to simply post hurtful comments underneath the photos those users share. If your teen posts a picture of themselves, for example, a bully might make an unkind comment about their weight or looks.

Sometimes you’ll see hashtags posted with comments. Hashtag messages are intended to make posts go viral – you can search the hashtag and see all photos or comments that include the tag. Some are just harmless fun, like #ThrowbackThursday, but others can be hurtful, like #TryWeightWatchers.

If your child is being bullied with comments or hashtags, these are at least easy to spot. Make sure that your teen knows how to block harassing users. They can also delete a photo that’s receiving unwanted attention.

Ratings Games

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Teenagers need to be aware that Instagram can also be a tool used by bullies.

If you ever look at photos that your child shares on Instagram and notice comments that simply contain a number, like “5” or “8”, then that could mean that other users are rating your teenager on their looks. This primarily happens to teenage girls, though it could apply to boys as well. The idea is simple – a girl shares a photo of herself, and other users, often teenage boys, rate her attractiveness on a scale of one to ten.

You can imagine how this could be hurtful to your teen’s self-esteem. Most parents wouldn’t want their daughters to be the object of such ratings even if everyone involved had the best of intentions. But in some cases, a girl who is being targeted by bullies could be deluged with low number comments from a group of teens trying to get a reaction.

Your child may want to limit the number of users who can see and interact with their photos. On Instagram, it’s possible to share a photo with only select followers. Make sure that your teen knows how to do this.

Sharing Private or Embarrassing Photos

One more way that teens may be bullied on Instagram is when other users share photos that will embarrass your teen. This may not necessarily be a photo of your teen – for example, a screenshot of a text message conversation that your teen intended to be a private conversation could be an embarrassing photo to share. However, a photo of your teen in an embarrassing moment, or a picture of your teen only partially clothes that was intended for a boyfriend or girlfriend could also be an embarrassing share.

If a photo posted by another user violates Instagram’s community guidelines, your teen can flag the photo and have it taken down. For example, most nudity is against the guidelines, so if someone shares a nude or partially nude photo of your teen, it could be flagged and removed.

Keeping a close eye on your teen’s Instagram account is the best way to protect them. Parental monitoring software can help you do that. To see how it works, get our free trial.