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When Should You Let Your Child Use Instagram?

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Social media has become an integral part of our lives. As a parent, you probably have accounts of your own on just about every social platform, from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Naturally, your kids are just as interested in being on social media. They see you tweeting and posting photos on Facebook. They see their friends taking Snaps and posting photos on Instagram.

As a parent, you have your own concerns about allowing your kids to enter the world of social media, but Instagram can be a particularly troublesome platform for parents. At what age is it appropriate for kids to start posting photos on Instagram?

What Parents Need to Know About Instagram

One of the things that attracts kids and teens – and everyone else – to Instagram is the instant feedback you receive. Within seconds of posting a photo, users can receive a few likes followed immediately by comments from other Instagrammers.

Sometimes, the feedback is positive. Other times, the feedback can be negative or downright mean. If children do not understand how to comment respectfully and handle hurtful comments from others, their experience with Instagram can quickly become a negative one.

Parents should know that photos and videos are public by default. In some cases, posts also contain location data. Privacy settings can be adjusted to give more control over who sees the content your child posts.

Many teens also feel pressured to portray an idealized or "perfect" image on Instagram. Some teens will even create two accounts, one that portrays their true self and another that portrays an idealized image of their life. In doing so, teens learn how to hide their true personalities.

What is an Appropriate Age for Kids to Use Instagram?

With all of this information about Instagram in mind, you may be wondering when you should start allowing your child to use Instagram.

The answer: whenever you feel it is appropriate.

There is no right or wrong time to allow your child to use any social media platform. It's a matter of your own comfort level, your child's maturity level and the level of trust you have with your child.

Kids as young as 9 are using Instagram, and this can be a fun platform for kids to express themselves – if their parents are keeping a watchful eye on their account.

Taking Control of Your Child's Account

If you do decide to allow your child to open an Instagram account, you may consider setting ground rules. Here's what works for many other parents:

Adjust the Privacy Settings

While not completely foolproof, Instagram's privacy settings can be very helpful. For starters, you can make your child's account private so that others can only see posts if they are approved.

You may also be able to hide location data to further protect your child from ill-intentioned users.

Privacy settings can be very helpful, but it's important to teach your child how to use Instagram appropriately and how to protect themselves.

Teach Your Child How to Post and Comment Appropriately

Teach your child to think before posting anything on Instagram. Remind your kids that everything they post will be visible to an audience. Once something has been posted online, it can be hard to take it back.

Remind your child to be kind to others when commenting and to respect other users.

Be a Follower and Friend

Finally, be a follower of your child's account. Doing so will help you keep an eye on posts and comments coming through.

When following your child on Instagram, try not to post comments that may cause embarrassment or resentment.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.