Instagram has been growing increasingly popular among teens and children, as many influencers have been targeting these groups because they can be easily lured. Children find Instagram super appealing because of its limitless access to content and the ability to connect with people from any corner of the world. They also get attracted by seeing concepts like followers, likes, and views, which tempts them to become famous on the gram. But, like every other social media platform, Instagram, too, has its own set of dangers, particularly when it comes to children using it.
How many children use Instagram?
Instagram has more than 1 billion users, and according to a survey conducted by Statista, around 7.3% of the users are under 18. That means approximately 73 million children are using Instagram all across the globe, and that is quite a huge number. Let’s find out why so many children are glued to this particular social media platform and what activities they generally engage in.
Why are children drawn to Instagram?
To begin with, children think that Instagram is where all the so-called cool people are, and it’s where all the so-called cool things happen, which is why they sign up for it in the first place. Apart from that, children and teens enjoy trends more than any other age group, and Instagram is loaded with trendy content all the time. Engaging in trends or at least knowing about them has become a must for them, and if they don’t, they’d probably feel left out.
In addition to that, the world of influencers has also caused children to get hooked on this social media platform. Several Instagram influencers target children and teens to gain engagement. This has caused two things: a). children now consider influencers as their role models and b). they’ve started wanting to become an influencer and establish a name for themselves in the digital world. Moreover, Instagram’s ability to let people connect from any corner of the world has caused children to make “internet friends” who are basically international friends; and they use the platform to stay in touch with them.
Well, these were some of the prime reasons why children are so attracted to Instagram. But then again, most of these activities are not safe for children. Why is that? Let’s find out!
Why is Instagram not safe for children?
To make things clear at first, we do not imply that Instagram is only about negativity. There are countless positive aspects to it, but only if it is used responsibly. When it gets to children, they are easily influenced by anything and everything, which raises the concern for security. To help you understand better, here is a detailed explanation about why your child is not safe on Instagram.
Easily available adult content
Instagram is used by people belonging to all ages, and therefore, adult content is bound to exist on the platform. Children can easily encounter it, whether it is in the form of sexual visuals, foul language being used in music, or simply adults using it in their speech or captions. Highly explicit content adversely impacts their mental health and may cause them to engage in unwanted activities at a premature age. Similarly, they also learn about cuss words or politically incorrect language and start using them among friends in their daily life. This majorly impacts their way of thinking and lifestyle in the future.
They start developing insecurities
As adults, we know that most of the content on Instagram is manipulated. The slim bodies, flawless skin, and perfect images that influencers and celebrities post are not real ones and that it is an outcome of professional lighting, photography skills, makeup, and editing. But such is not the case among children. They tend to believe everything they see because their minds are not developed enough to critically process every piece of content they consume. Due to this, they start developing insecurities about their shape, facial texture, and overall appearance. They strive to achieve that perfect look without realizing that it is nothing but a delusion.
Engagement in unhealthy trends
Let’s be honest, we all tend to give in to Instagram trends at times, and we enjoy the attention too. But sometimes, the trends can be a little too much for a young mind. They may be inappropriate or straight up unsafe. But children don’t think too much; they dive into them because “everyone is doing it.” One such example is the “Duct Tape Challenge,” wherein a person is stuck to a door by wrapping duct tape all over the body, and the challenge is to escape it. Children may think it is fun to do, but there are severe risks involved, which can harm the child. These things get trendy instantly, and hence, children feel the need to engage in them.
They are easy targets for scammers
This is, by far, one of the most significant threats that children can face on Instagram. There are several ways of being scammed on the internet, and Instagram makes it even more comfortable. Children being young and naive, are often targeted by scammers. One of the most common ways is offering a child an appealing deal and sale through Direct Messaging (dm) and then asking for their parent’s credit card details, which children blindly give away. Apart from that, children can also be easily lured into sharing personal photos or personal information, which is later misused by scammers or even regular people, for that matter.
Then tend to get addicted
This is something that even adults are struggling with, but the addiction can turn intense within no time in the case of children. Once a child enters the universe of Instagram, where every image looks perfect, every trend looks appealing, and every person seems to be friendly, the addiction is bound to happen if not controlled on time. Here’s the deal, the Instagram algorithm is designed so that the user gets hooked to it and continues scrolling it for a long time. Most adults have other jobs and responsibilities to attend to, and therefore, they are forced to close the app. But such is not the case with children, and hence, their addiction is more damaging.
The ultimate effect
All the dangers mentioned above lead to the same effect: disturbed mental and physical health. The insecurities they generate, the silly trends they engage in, the scams that they fall prey to, and the addiction they develop; ultimately result in mental health issues like lowered self-esteem, anxiety, fear of missing out, depression, and so on. Besides, they also develop physical health problems like weak eyes, headache, and backache, which may further lead to extreme illnesses.
If the impact is too adverse, the child may also become suicidal or engage in self-harm activities, particularly if the health issues are not addressed immediately. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to keep children away from social media platforms like Instagram, and even if they do have a presence, their activities should be monitored at all costs.
Well, these were the most commonly experienced perils by children on Instagram, which should be known and understood by every parent so that required precautions can be taken. Some ways of ensuring children’s’ safety are installing a parental monitoring app that can track the child’s activity, setting their account to private, and keeping a regular check on the content they are posting and the people they are engaging with. Apart from that, making your child understand that the fun on Instagram comes with a set of responsibilities can go a long way too.