All social media platforms carry similar risks for all users, but especially for younger users. These include: being contacted by strangers; viewing inappropriate content; negative interactions and cyberbullying; negative impacts on physical and mental wellbeing; becoming addicted; and being influenced by others and by advertising.
Instagram’s direct messaging feature in particular carries important risks. It is a common practice for strangers to ‘slide into the DMs’ of individuals they do not know - attempting to initiate a romantic relationship. Even if your child’s profile is private, strangers can still reach out and initiate messaging. Children should be reminded that strangers on the internet may not always have straightforward intentions: there are groomers and predators who use DMs to initiate contact, too.
There are also significant risks to mental wellbeing, these risks are tied to Influencer Culture. ‘Influencers’ build large followings on Instagram by posting trendy content and often tailoring their appearance to fit “fashionable ideals”. Influencer culture can produce damaging thoughts in children, potentially leading some children to believe that in order to be popular on Instagram, they have to look and act a certain way.