Instagram safety training for rising HS freshman?

My daughter is starting high school, and it seems like all of her peers have and are communicated through Instagram. I have been pretty strict about not allowing her to get it because of concerns about its addictive ness, possible bullying, body image minefields, etc etc. but at this time, I think I’m denying her an essential tool that all of her friends will be using to communicate.

SO- I’m wondering if there are any courses out there (preferably zoom) or literature I can assign prior to letting her get the app (some sort of training)? Any recommendations for internet safety contracts that are designed for teens?


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Good questions! I applaud you for being thoughtful about your daughter's use of Instagram. If she's not already on Tik-Tok, that will quickly follow. Yes, these platforms, and others like them, are essential tools for teens to be social. My daughter has kept in touch with middle school friends this way. She also found her college roommate and has built a relationship with her over the summer through the entering class's Instagram group. It's important for young people to learn to use these platforms appropriately and effectively.

My daughter is about to head off to college. When she was in late elementary school, her uncle wanted us to get an Instagram account to share family photos. I set one up and we used it together for years. She set up a personal Instagram account in eighth grade. I didn't require a contract or coursework. I did require, since I paid for the phone and phone plan, that any account be set up as a private account, and that I follow any social media accounts she set up with the understanding that I would not like or comment on any of her posts. She also follows my social media accounts. We frequently talk about what we see on our social media in a casual way. It's been quite healthy. She comes to me with all sorts of things she sees—healthy and positive, and unhealthy and harmful. Generally, I listen and offer advice only if she asks for it. She's been appropriate in her use of social media and manages her time on it relatively wisely, even if she has had episodes of over-indulging.

My son is another story. I used the same approach with him. I also tried courses and contracts.

Know your kid. Treat them with respect and rely as much as possible on your relationship with them, rather than courses and contracts. As they enter the high school years it's healthy for them to build autonomy with you in more of a mentorship role, and less of a manager role. If they get into some trouble, take a deep breath and handle the situation with compassion. Problems on social media generally don't come out of the blue. There will be warning signs, so pay attention, and don't hover or pry.

It can be a scary world out there, but the vast majority of kids do just fine. (And I have one who is not doing just fine, so I'm not a Pollyanna.)

I have a rising Junior (girl) who does NOT have Instagram (or any other social media).  3 years into HS, she still asks me to get it from time to time, and I say no, then we move on. Our agreement when our kids got their phones was NO SOCIAL MEDIA, PERIOD.  Do her friends all use Instagram? Yes, they do. Does she sometimes feel left, out? Sometimes. But they also text and Facetime and so does she. Do I feel badly for her? Absolutely not. There are SO many studies out there that show how bad this is for teens (and girls in particular), like this one: Managing the Effects of Social Media on Teen Girls | [email protected]. Trust me, there are happy kids out there without it, Instagram is one tool of many to communicate, so you are not denying her the ONLY tool. My kid never stays up late or wakes up early to see who 'liked' her post and how many views it has, she wakes up and goes to school and socializes with her friends in person and no one cares whether she has it or not, and it's not what they talk about. She's the most well adjusted and happiest of her friend group I believe for NOT having social media. Please do some research before you make that move! Good luck!