Instagram App Poster Image


Great app makes sharing pretty, private photos all too easy.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn some basic concepts about photography and exercise some creativity with Instagram. The service is designed to be an inherently social one, so teens using Instagram will learn some of the ins and outs (and perhaps ups and downs) of social networking. They'll have to make decisions about the kind of network they want to build and exercise judgment when they're communicating with others. Instagram isn't a deep learning experience, but it lets teens express themselves through photos as they build their social networks.

Ease of play

No tutorial, but intuitive to use. Create login, import contacts, and follow other users. An online help desk is available from the About menu.


Some photos or comments may contain violent material, but it's not widespread.


Despite terms that photos cannot be "nude, partially nude, or sexually suggestive," several photos show cleavage and some comments are sexually explicit. 


Several comments contain swear words, including "f--k." Comments are not moderated. Words also could be represented in photos; the terms do not prohibit specific language so long as it is not abusive toward another user. 


Kids will encounter ads and photos promoting a commercial brand, as well as "sponsored" photos or videos, i.e., ads.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Photos or comments sometimes show or suggest the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Instagram is a popular platform for instantly enhancing photos and videos with cool effects and sharing them across a number of social media platforms. The terms specify that users should be at least 13 years old and should not post partially nude or sexually suggestive photos but do not prohibit the portrayal of violence, swear words, or drugs. Users can flag photos for review, but mature content still appears in some photos and in the comment sections. Photos shared in Instagram are public and may have location information unless privacy settings are adjusted. Also, it's possible to save other users' photos. Instagram Direct allows users to send private photos directly to other users. Tinder users can access other Tinder users' Instagram feeds directly from within the Tinder app, even on private Instagram feeds if Tinder integration is enabled. As of 2016, users can live-stream video, and video streams and  selected private photos will disappear, Snapchat style. Also, users can remove followers, turn off comments, and like others' comments. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

What's it about?

All users can view popular photos and videos shared by other users on INSTAGRAM. Users who create logins also can share their own photos and 60-second videos. As of 2016, you can also live-stream video, which will disappear after the stream ends or share private photos that will disappear. After taking or choosing a photo, you can modify the lighting, contrast, and color with preset effects, which usually make the photo look high-quality and interesting. You also can add a border, blur effects, and brightness. Users then add a caption, share the photo on Instagram and, if desired, via email or other social networks. @music is a feature that allows musicians to share photos and videos specifically related to their bands or performances, which may give rise to more focused content. Photos and videos are public by default, but you can choose to make your posts private in settings, as well as choose to share photos and videos with 15 or fewer friends via Instagram Direct. People can also save other users' photos. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram offers "Stories" which is a series of photos or videos strung together and only lasts 24 hours. Users can remove followers, turn off comments, and like others' comments. The term "Finsta" applies to accounts kids use under made-up names where they share content they only want to share with certain people. Finsta accounts are also used to post racier content and bully people.

Is it any good?


This social network offers the cool photo effects of Hipstamatic powerfully combined with the social seduction of Facebook, the popularity filter of Reddit, the hashtag and follower sharing models of Twitter, and the curse and blessing of commentary on YouTube -- and that's just within the app. Instagram makes your photos and videos look cool and then makes it easy to share them instantly, across multiple platforms, allowing you to broadcast how #awesome your life is right now. The competition for cool can get a little tiresome (the comments are full of users seeking followers), and we'd love to see more moderation for photos and comments to be totally safe for kids. As with any social network, it's helpful to talk to kids about privacy settings and mindful sharing, since things shared on the Internet can follow you forever. Overall, Instagram does a remarkable job of implementing a neat idea with an easy and fast interface, all for free. 

Families can talk about...

  • Encourage kids to be smart about what and how they share on Instagram and online in general. We have some great tips on safety and being a good digital citizen.

  • Check out photography books from the library for kids who want to learn more about lighting, mood, and so on.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows Phone
Subjects:Arts: photography
Skills:Creativity: producing new content
Communication: conveying messages effectively, friendship building, multiple forms of expression
Tech Skills: digital creation, social media
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:April 21, 2012
Category:Photo & Video
Size:12.70 MB
Publisher:Instagram, Inc.
Minimum software requirements:IOS 3.1.2 or later; Android 2.2 and up

This review of Instagram was written by

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Parent of a 9, 11, and 17 year old Written bysmartcookie February 24, 2013

Fun, but best for mature, self disciplined kids

I have a 17, 11 & 9 year old, and the changes in social media over the past 5 years have been staggering. While safety is an obvious concern, the more practical concern for me is what all the screen time is doing to young brain and social skill development. When my oldest was a preschooler, it was generally accepted by parents that too much TV was bad for young minds. With the excitement over new technology, (myself included) it is easy to let them spend hours exploring fun new apps on a variety of screens. My teen ager has had this app for almost a year, and we have discussed the importance of choosing carefully what she posts - no sexually provacative shots, nothing you wouldn't want your grandmother to see. Kids often forget that anyone who has access to their account can "screen shot" any picture they post. This means that once you post a picture, you lose control of where it might end up. Kids are often not very choosy about who they follow and who they allow to follow them, in an attempt to look more "popular" they will often let friends of friends follow them, or follow popular celebrities or older teens. The pictures celebrities and older teens post can be provocative, and the comments crude. There is also the down side of seeing what your peers are doing, 24 / 7. It is easy to get the idea that "everyone" is having fun, and I'm not. In reality, this isn't the case, but teens can become obsessed with what everyone else is doing, and stop being engaged with their own life. Yes, teens have always been preoccupied with the social life of others, but now they never get away from the constant "high light" reel of everyone else's life. It makes it harder to focus on being themselves. My 9 & 11 year old do not have the app, because I have seen the down side of social media for kids who use it at too young an age. First, my 9 year old daughter has friends who follow much older girls and imitate the behavior of teenagers. Nothing is creepier to me than a 9 year old girl trying to be sexually provocative on social media. I would prefer my younger daughter not be aware of what teens do at parties for another 5 years or so. Childhood is short enought the way it is. With my 11 year old son, I notice that when his friends come over now, they are more interested in folliowng social media and texting than in playing basketball, or interacting with the people who are in the room with them. I see their normally good social skills dissolving in front of my eyes. I have not even touched on the drama that can occur when kids use social media to exclude or be cruel to others. It definitely makes it much easier to be mean, when you don't have to look at the person you are mistreating. I think parents have a responsibility to monitor what their children are posting, to make sure that their kids don't get caught up in the drama of the moment and post hurtful things. It is simply part of teaching your child to be a responsible human being. Unfortunately, monitoring takes time, and if you don't have it (like I don't for my 2 youngest) you probably shouldn't let your kids have the app. That being said, this is a really fun app for the socially & emotionally mature. Until there is more research on the effects of social media I will proceed with caution and limit the screen time my kids have, while monitoring (following) what they post. Yes, kids can create a separate account to keep parents in the dark, but if you are an engaged, aware parent, you will probably catch on to this trick.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent Written byArceusBlitz1 June 19, 2012

13 and up? Really?

This is an amazing app. I'm addicted. But 13 and up for this is too much. I've seen 7 year olds sharing photos and following people. Instagram is way safer than Facebook and I'd rather have Insta than FB (I don't even have one). The only thing I would be concerned about is the people you follow. If your child decides to have an Instagram, tell them to follow only people and friends they actually know and talk to on a regular basis. I don't just go and follow everyone I've seen before or heard of. There's this one girl I know and her username is "Follow me and I'll follow you". She has over a thousand followers. DO NOT do that. Great app for sharing pictures but it's good to be a little safe on it.
Kid, 10 years old May 25, 2012

Great if you show your kids the ropes

Very good. Teaches kids about the arts. Fun way to interact with friends all across the world.. HOWEVER, It's INCREDIBLY easy to have some creep get in contact your children. Children can (although the rules prohibit this, you know what teens are like) post partially nude/nude pictures and post pictures of drugs, alcohol other stuff. Also great for brainwashing kids into buying products, as many companies are creating accounts nowadays. Also easy to reveal personal info. Tell them to check with you before posting any photos, put their settings on private, and make sure to tell you before accepting any followers/following someone. Make an account and follow you kids to make sure everything they post is a-okay. I, as a ten year old, find it a great way to keep in contact with my friends, and am also keeping safe at the same time.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns