The Hurtful Side of Social Media: Horrific Threats Via Instagram for One Teen

instagram safety for kids

The students of Lone Hill Middle School are having to face the cruel, unsettling and for most, unexpected side of social media. Their classmate, an unidentified girl, received startling and horrific death threats via Instagram. While police and school officials are doing everything possible to find the person behind these anonymous threats, parents are left wondering how they can protect their own children from the ugly aspects of social media.

How Many Tweens/Teens Use Social Media?

An article on Edudemic gives these startling stats:

  • 95% of teens ages 12-19 use the Internet
  • 81% have social media accounts, 50% of those have public profile information that can be seen by anyone on the Internet
  • 50% login to their social media accounts more than once per day, many 10 times a day or more
  • 21% of kids under 13 use social media sites
  • 23% of tween girls reported that Instagram was their favorite app

As a Parent, Here is What You Should Know

Ignorance of technology and social media is no longer an option for parents.  According to Nicole Nishada, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, “When the conflicts expand to social media, parents are often unaware of the communication occurring silently on cell phones and computers.”

The sheriff’s office involved in this incident has been very clear that the authorities take this type of threat very seriously and there will be consequences when the person behind the threats is caught. Cyberbullying affects both the victim, who will carry emotional scars, and the bully, who if caught, can face severe legal action, or financial consequences.

With serious consequences associated on both sides of the cyberbullying epidemic, it is critical for parents to take an active role and speak with their children about this topic.  Children should know that there are options when they are the victim of cyberbullying and they should also know the negative consequences of being a cyberbully.

As parents, we sometimes go by the old adage “no news is good news,” but our children, who may be afraid to speak up or who think they can handle the situation on their own, are struggling silently.

What Can You Do To Help Your Children

A lot. Social media is a privilege, not a necessity and parents have every right to closely monitor their child’s Internet usage, including social media accounts. Children have grown up with technology, are tech savvy and may know how to keep their parents from seeing their online activity. Insist on having the passwords to your child’s accounts and monitor them daily, asking questions if you see something suspicious or unsettling. Parents can also help their children avoid this type of harassment by keeping an open line of communication.

This Is What MamaBear Was Created For

MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ closely monitors your child’s popular social media accounts all in one convenient newsfeed, including what they are posting, tweets and pictures, and also what is being said back to them through comments, messages or any other means of communication.

The app, available on iPhone and Android devices, will alert you to any signs of bullying creating the opportunity for you to open up a line of communication and extract information from your kids. The MamaBear app also offers a private communication portal so you and your family can share messages and stay on top of any situation.  Your kids do not have to be a victim to cyberbullying.  Use MamaBear and be aware and informed before your child has a problem!


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Five Tips for Keeping Kids Safe on Instagram

If you have a preteen or teen with a smartphone, you’re probably aware of the app Instagram. Thankfully, parents have options when it comes to keeping their kids safe on Instagram. | MamaBear App

If you have a preteen or teen with a smartphone, you’re probably aware of the app Instagram. Instagram – a photo-sharing app that allows anyone with a camera smartphone to take and upload pictures and add comments, location markers, photo filters and more, remains wildly popular with more than 200 million users globally.

Much of what happens on Instagram is harmless sharing of ubiquitous “selfies” and silly photos with friends during outings to the mall or sleepovers. Many parents are even joining in the fun, sharing their own photos from their daily lives.

Still, others are concerned by the power Instagram has to influence and expose kids to strangers and inappropriate content. Sharing photos with the ability to be tagged for location can allow the youngest of preteens to even well-versed adults that can make them vulnerable to predators.

Related: Protecting Kids from Internet Stranger Danger

Instagram offers privacy settings that can keep your children’s content protected and they can opt out of sharing their location. In addition, though the minimum age for using the app is 13, children much younger are regular users who simply lie about their age to add the app to their devices.

Thankfully, parents have options when it comes to keeping their kids safe on Instagram:

1.     Remind your kids about stranger danger. Insist that they set their profiles to private and only add people they know and trust in real life to their accounts;

2.     Follow them  if you are also an Instagram user and have an open discussion about additional Instagram accounts so you can follow all of their profiles;

3.     Discuss the digital footprint they are creating for themselves cautioning and prohibiting sharing  of provocative photos of themselves on Instagram

4.     Reinforce your family’s consequences for engaging in bullying behavior on Instagram. Don’t let your kid be the social media bully, and give your children a plan of action should they feel they are the victim of bullying;

5.     Install a family safety app like MamaBear on your own mobile devices as well as your kids. This will allow you to monitor your children’s activity on Instagram and other popular social apps. By using MamaBear, you can see previews of photos your child’s uploading,  know who your child follows (or is followed by)  and customize a keyword list to be aware of indicators of bullying, hate, sexual content or even complimentary language for positive reinforcement.

It’s so important l in this day and age to keep an open line of dialog with your kids about how they are using social media  and be their voice of reason as they make choices and learn how to protect themselves.   Our kids have greater risks and parents have bigger responsibilities.   A parent in the know is the most helpful to healthy development.  Happy digital parenting!