A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 videos which can be seconds long or as long as 60 minutes. You can also live-stream video, which will disappear after the stream ends or share private photos that will disappear. If you create a collection of videos, you can have a channel that other users can subscribe to on a feature called IGTV. 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. While active in the app, a green status dot is visible next to your name -- and to your friends -- and you can turn that feature off in settings.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about being 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.
Talk about using features responsibly. Is it okay to livestream? How can you use the polling stickers in a fun way that won't hurt any feelings?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Subjects: Arts: photography
- Skills: Creativity: producing new content
Communication: conveying messages effectively, friendship building, multiple forms of expression
Tech Skills: digital creation, social media
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: April 21, 2012
- Category: Photo & Video
- Size: 12.70 MB
- Publisher: Instagram, Inc.
- Version: 2.4.0
- Minimum software requirements: IOS 3.1.2 or later; Android 2.2 and up
- Last updated: February 28, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love creativity
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.