Katy Magazine asked parents their thoughts on allowing their preteen students to have an Instagram. See their responses and hear from local experts.
NOTE: Instagram's age policy dictates that a person must be at least 13 years old in order to open an account, but there aren't very many parameters for verifying a person's age and some Katy parents are allowing pre-teens to get an IG account.
We asked Katy parents to weigh in on whether or not children in junior high should be allowed to have an Instagram.
YEs, they have to grow up at some point.
" My son got instagram last year! He’s going into 7th but I have one and I also monitor his. Got to start giving them some trust at some point so they can prove they are mature enough to handle it." - J. T.
"Of course, but i monitor too. I would rather my son have it and it’s known by his father and I than open one secretly. Being in JH will allow more freedom than elementary." - J.P. "I have one going into 9th and one going into 7th. I just asked them this and they said just about everyone has an Instagram account. And most have had there own phones since on average 3rd/4th grade." - K.R. "Mine is starting 7th and doesn’t have it... yet!" - C. G.
"As long as you also install it on your phone as well and log in you will get all their notifications and see all their posts. You can be logged into more than one Instagram account at a time. That is the only reason mine can have it." - A.O.
"Yes. Mine does.I am a technology teacher. I only allow it if I have direct access which I do. If I see anything unacceptable, it goes away." - J.P.
NO, Instagram is off limits
"Nope. My daughter is a teacher and went to a training over the summer regarding social media. There is SO much that we don’t know about these sites that the kids do. Even if you think you’re able to monitor them, you’re really not." - M.B.
"No good happens on the gram in jr high." - J.T.
"I allowed it then took it away. Anyone can sent them direct messages. Hard to police who talks to your kids." - H.N.
"I don't let any of my kids have social media until they are in high school, usually the summer before 9th grade. Personally, I wouldn't." - M.R.
"If they do and they are solicited by an adult or legal action needs to be taken, the law can do nothing because someone lied, when they clicked the yes I'm 13 button." - J.P.
The Hidden Dangers of Social Media
Kelly Litvak, Executive Director for Childproof America, warns parents of children at all ages, but especially pre-teens to be aware of the dangers of social media. "After President Trump signed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Acts in April 2018, online sex solicitation sites like Backpage have been taken down - but now predators are using social media more than ever. Since April, Harris County law enforcement has seen a sharp increase in predatory behavior on social media, and Instagram is at the top of the list," she says.
Litvak wants Katy parents to know that sexual predators with any amount of skill are highly adept at reaching kids without raising suspicion.
"Predators don't approach unsuspecting young victims with blatant invitations to engage in risky behavior, but rather, they strike up a "friendship" which plays upon the innocence of children and builds trust as a way to lure them in a direction which is very unsafe. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the average age a girl is exploited for sex trafficking is 12-14. For boys this age is younger, 11-13," she warns.
In Litvak's opinion, the risk is just not worth the reward. "Why would a parent expose their children to Instagram, knowing this is a predatory playground for criminals searching for a way to make entry into a child's life," she says.
For those parents who do allow their pre-teens to open an Instagram account, Litvak urges them to reconsider. "As much as parents believe they have equipped their children to stay safe on social media, the reality is, if your child is posting current locations, school, friends and activities, a remotely skilled predator can easily locate them. Keep your kids off social media as long as possible because they simply don't have the maturity and life experiences to outsmart the bad guy (or girl)," she says.
SHARE YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT INSTAGRAM FOR PRE-TEENS HERE.