The 5 Dangers Of Instagram For Kids And Teens

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Instagram poses numerous risks, especially to younger users. These risks include exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, or becoming addicted. Instagram can also foster a negative self-image and increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety among teens and adults.

Do you have concerns about your kids or teens using Instagram? Do you wonder what type of person you’d be without it? Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps in the world. And while it’s fun, it’s not without its dangers. 

Admittedly, I don’t use Instagram as much as many of my friends. It’s because I noticed that I was feeling some of the negative effects of Instagram myself. Read on as I share the dangers of Instagram and why you need to be mindful when you use it or allow your kids or teens to use it. 

What Are The 5 Dangers Of Instagram?

An Android smartphone in the hand with Instagram website open on it

Instagram is the 4th popular social media app in the world. According to the data science company Demand Sage, it boasts an impressive 2.4 billion monthly active users (MAUs) and is expected to surpass 2.5 billion by the end of 2023.

That’s beyond impressive when you consider that the global population is 8.1 billion people, according to the World Population Clock. While Instagram has an impressive number of MAUs, this doesn’t negate the harmful effects it may have on some of those users. 

To be fair, I’m writing this article not to demonize Instagram, as I know it has its benefits, but I think it’s important to know about the negative sides of the app so you can educate yourself and your children. 

With this knowledge, you can engage Instagram more safely and reap the benefits without suffering harm. While I’ll focus on kids and teens, this information is also relevant to adults, who can also fall prey to Instagram’s dangers. 

Instagram Is A Common Place For Cyberbullying

Multiple girls using smartphone in the class

Bullying has always been an issue that many kids, teens, and even adults face. Before the popularisation of the internet and social media, bullying was confined to the school walls, but now, with social media, bullying has evolved

It has sprouted digital wings and follows victims home. Instagram is one of the many channels that many bullies use to torment their victims.

According to an article titled Exploring Definition of Cyberbullying and its Forms From the Perspective of Adolescents Living in Pakistan that was published in the Psychological Studies Journal, there are 8 types of cyberbullying:

  • Flaming
  • Harassment
  • Denigration
  • Impersonation
  • Outing
  • Trickery
  • Exclusion
  • Cyberstalking

Additionally, I came across a cyberbullying statistics fact sheet by First Site Guide, a tech website, that shared that 32.2% of cyberbullying comprises rumors being spread online, and mean comments account for 28.7% of cyberbullying. 

A girl illustrating the smiling face of a depressed person

First Site Guide also shared some other useful statistics, such as 61% of teens who reported being cyberbullied stated it was because of their appearance. The data also showed that 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before they turn 18. 

And as I mentioned before, cyberbullying is not limited to kids and teens. 41% of US adults shared that they experienced online harassment, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank based in the United States. I haven’t experienced online harassment before, but I’ve seen what it does to friends, and it’s not pretty. 

Now while Instagram isn’t the only social media platform where cyberbullying occurs, it’s where it happens the most. And this has been the case for a while. According to the American magazine, The Atlantic, most teens reported being cyberbullied on Instagram more than any other platform.

Many people may suggest that victims can use a private account, hide comments or block bullies on Instagram to deal with cyberbullying. However, it’s not always that simple. Cyberbullying can go from offensive comments to targeted Instagram stories and even harassing direct messages from private accounts. 

This is why I encourage kids in my family to stay off social media until they’re 16 years old, or when they are better equipped to deal with everything that comes with it. 

CBS New York spoke about how Instagram breeds the most bullying:

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Instagram Can Contribute To Declining Self-Esteem

A woman looking at her body in the mirror

Mental health is a vital part of one’s overall health and well-being. According to digital marketer Ela Sharma on LinkedIn, Instagram provides access to mental health resources. However, it also contributes to many users’ mental health decline.

Body image is one of the most prevalent issues for Instagram users, especially young girls. According to American media company NPR, Instagram discovered in 2021 that the app is worsening body image issues for one in three teen girls. The same report also found that Instagram made one in seven boys feel worse about their bodies and themselves. This is due to the unhealthy comparisons that Instagram facilitates among young users. 

This unhealthy comparison that takes place on Instagram isn’t limited to teens, it’s an issue among adult users as well. I know I’ve been guilty of it myself; after all, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

Here’s a video by CBC News: The National, which speaks about the issue:

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Instagram Addiction Adds To Depression & Anxiety

A boy sitting in the corner of a room

Social media platforms are designed to keep you on them all day and all night. A feature done by the BBC discusses how social media is deliberately built to be addictive

In the same feature, a former Mozilla employee, Aza Raskin, shared that “behind every screen on your phone, there are generally like literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting.”

Instagram is no exception, and its addictive design has consequences. According to the Child Mind Institute, a mental health support organization, teens and young adult users who spend a lot of time on Instagram and other social media sites have a 13 to 66% higher rate of reported depression

Social media addiction is a serious issue, and according to the Lanier Law Firm, approximately 210 million people worldwide are addicted to social media

What’s worse is that social media is rewiring adolescent brains and how their brains control social rewards and punishment, according to an international peer-reviewed journal, JAMA Paediatrics. 

Additionally, a study done by the U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health showed that Instagram was rated as the worst social media platform for young people’s mental well-being, beating out other social media platforms such as Twitter. Personally, I always thought the top spot would be taken by Twitter, now X, but given how Instagram is built, I understand why.

The Sun speaks about how Instagram is as addictive as a drug:

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Scammers Have Added Instagram To Their Arsenal

Multiple app icons showing on the screen of an iPhone

Scamming and identity theft is nothing new. Unfortunately for us, they’re the first to evolve with laws and law enforcement behind them. After all, you cannot protect against a threat that you don’t know exists, correct? 

Scammers have taken to Instagram to do a number of different scams. According to the cybersecurity company Norton, there are 12 common Instagram scams, including lottery and giveaways, crypto, investment, fake job, and phishing scams. Speaking of scams, here’s what to do if your Instagram has been hacked.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 95,000 people reported losses of $770 million in fraud that started on social media in 2021. That’s a lot of money! Wouldn’t you want  $770 million right now? I know I would.

Unfortunately, scammers have taken to Instagram and other social media sites to exploit people. I’ve received my fair share of scammer message requests, but I always delete them as soon as I see them. It makes no sense to keep them around.

To help protect yourself against scammers, I recommend reading about avoiding Instagram scams via the Instagram Help Center. It offers some valuable information that I think every Instagram user should know. 

Predators Use Instagram To Target Children

Close up of an iPhone screen with Instagram app icon on it

Child predators have often found ways to link together, especially on the internet, to share inappropriate content with each other and innocent children. Unfortunately, Instagram is one of the many platforms they’ve been using to share abhorrent content and target children in the process. 

According to the renowned tech company, The Verge, Instagram’s algorithm connected predators by allowing them to create a vast network using Instagram’s recommendation algorithm. I suggest reading the article to see how these predators have used Instagram to their advantage. 

It gets worse, as an article by Forbes Magazine shared how a photographer who was guilty of selling pictures of children to predators was allowed to continue his business on the photo-sharing platform, even after being arrested and indicted. 

One of my main concerns about letting my younger relatives on social media is they possibly become the targets of child predators. It’s also why I don’t post pictures of them on my own Instagram. Information spreads so quickly on the internet, and I would much rather be safe than sorry. 

I found a great article by the parental monitoring company, Protect Young Eyes, which shared 4 ways predators exploit Instagram to groom kids. It’s a helpful resource you can use to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to help protect young users such as your children, your friends’ children, and others.

I recommend a private account for your child if you let them have an Instagram account. Speak with them about their followers so you can know who they’re talking to and help protect them. Additionally, you can use a parental monitoring app such as mSpy.

Parental monitoring apps are a way to provide additional protection for your child as they use Instagram and the internet in general. I recommend discussing it with them so you both can arrange a healthy compromise and they don’t feel like you’re invading their privacy while monitoring their online activities. 

Here’s a great video by the Wall Street Journal discussing the predator network on Instagram:

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What are 3 negatives of Instagram?

The three negatives of Instagram are that it’s addictive, it contributes to lower self-esteem, depression, body appearance issues, and anxiety. It’s also the social media platform with the highest rate of cyberbullying. All of these three negatives are what makes Instagram harmful, especially to younger users.

The Dangers Of Instagram – Wrapping Up

What’d you think about this list? I know Instagram can look great, but there are dangers to the app, especially. Whether it’s cyberbullying or body image issues.

Ask questions or share your Instagram experience in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this article if you liked it too.

About The Authors

  • Hemant Mendiratta

    Hemant Mendiratta is a co-founder of TechUntold and a passionate tech blogger, avid gamer, and social media guru who keenly monitors useful apps and gadgets. He is the ideator of our Instagram tool StoryHoot which allows watching Instagram stories anonymously. You can connect with him on: Facebook, Twitter.

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  • Jenn Peters

    Jenn Peters is an experienced content manager and editor who holds a degree in English and certifications in Social Media Marketing and Copywriting from the College of Media and Publishing. She has been working for TechUntold since 2018. In addition, Jenn works as a content editor for Valnet across 7 company sites, publishing numerous articles weekly. Connect with Jenn on LinkedIn.

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Photo of author

Hemant Mendiratta

Hemant Mendiratta is a co-founder of TechUntold and a passionate tech blogger, avid gamer, and social media guru who keenly monitors useful apps and gadgets. He is the ideator of our Instagram tool StoryHoot which allows watching Instagram stories anonymously. You can connect with him on: Facebook, Twitter.

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