Instagram

Common Sense Media says

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

Age(i)

2
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9
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11
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

There is no tutorial, but Instagram is very intuitive to use. New users create a login, then can import contacts and sign up to follow other users. Users can easily take a photo within the app or import one from their camera roll, then quickly enhance it using one of the 20 pre-set lighting and contrast effects. Users can also add a simple border, blur effects, and brightness. They can then add a caption and share the photo on Instagram and, if desired, on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquaremixi, or by email. Users can view, like, and comment on photos or videos. Note that this is not an app for managing your photos -- you cannot create an album or even share multiple photos at once. An online help desk is available from the About menu.

Violence

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

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism

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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Photos or comments on Instagram could show or suggest the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. 

Privacy & safety

Significant privacy concerns. Users can choose whether to include location information with their shared photos. By default, all photos shared on Instagram are public and include location information; these can be adjusted in the settings. If a user makes photos private, only followers can see the user's photos, and the user must approve any new followers. Instagram Direct allows users to send private photos and videos directly to other users; if you follow each other the photos and videos will appear in your inbox. If you don't follow the sender, you'll have the option to approve or deny the direct sharing request. If you approve it, future photos from that sender will appear in your inbox. Users can also create public profiles with their first and last name, a website, bio, and photograph, as well as a private profile with their email, phone number, gender, and birthday.

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. Instagram Direct allows users to send private photos and directly to other users.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Arts

  • photography

Skills

Creativity

  • producing new content

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Playing with the tool to enhance what would be ordinary photos can be very fun, and the social aspect is sure to engage. Does a remarkable job implementing a neat idea with an easy and fast interface, all for free. 

Learning Approach

Teens learn mostly through hands-on exploration.

Support

There's a pretty detailed help section, but it's kind of tucked away and not useful for on-the-go tips. There's no tutorial, but Instagram is very intuitive to use. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Arts

  • photography

Skills

Creativity

  • producing new content

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • social media

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 network.

This Learning Rating review was written by Ingrid Simone

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 can also share their own photos and 15-second videos. After taking or choosing a photo, you can modify the lighting, contrast, and color with pre-set effects, which usually make the photo look high-quality and interesting. You can also add a border, blur effects, and brightness. Users then add a caption and instantly share the photo on Instagram and, if desired, via email or other social networks. 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.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Welcome to Instagram, where the cool photo effects of Hipstamatic powerfully combine 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 rightnow. 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. Overall, though, Instagram does a remarkable job 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 online. 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, etc.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:April 21, 2012
Category:Photo & Video
Size:12.70 MB
Publisher:Burbn, Inc.
Version:2.4.0
Minimum software requirements:IOS 3.1.2 or later; Android 2.2 and up

This review of Instagram was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous February 20, 2015
AGE
13
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Just like Facebook.

Got my first Insta at 13-1/2!
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent Written byArceusBlitz1 June 19, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

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.
Parent Written bymidwest mom May 18, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

BEWARE of INSTAGRAM! Not something your kids should download.

This app has no privacy controls. Young kids are posting innocent photos that anyone in the Instagram community can "like" and then total strangers' photos, profanity, and sexually explicit images can show up on your kids iPod! BEWARE!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent of a 9, 11, and 17 year old Written bysmartcookie February 24, 2013
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

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

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