What do I need to know about Instagram?

We've spoken to parents to find out what they think about Instagram. We've also asked children and young people what they think. Here's what they said:

Children’s views

What do children and young people dislike about it?

9% of the children and young people who reviewed Instagram thought it was unsafe. The main things they told us they don’t like about Instagram were:

  • People you don’t know can comment on your posts, message you or follow you.
  • Sometimes you can see upsetting or inappropriate posts.
  • People write mean or bullying comments on your posts.

What do children and young people like about it?

The main things that children and young people told us they like about Instagram were:

  • A fun way to see what your friends, family and celebrities are up to.
  • It’s easy to communicate with your friends
  • You can follow pages with things you’re interested in
  • Posting photos and videos in a creative way

Is content on Instagram suitable for children and young people?

We asked parents and young people about the types of inappropriate content they’ve seen on Instagram. The level of risk is based on the % of respondents who reported seeing these types of content. The ratings are: Low Risk (less than 5% of respondents); Medium Risk (between 5 and 25%); and High Risk (over 25%, or more than one in four).


High Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk


High Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

What are people saying about

Young person, 17

“The accounts can be monitored easily as most actions are seen publicly (likes, comments) unless the account is private. However, it is easy to search for things that could cause harm or distress the viewer (self harm, nudity, abuse etc.)”

Girl, 14

“I like the ability to easily be able to message friends and family, send them videos and pictures and more. You can easily post a comment or picture of yourself on your profile that anyone who looks on your profile (if they're following you or not) can see.”

Girl, 14

“I like that you can use it to communicate with friends and family. You do get some rude or distressing content posted on Instagram but you can report it immediately. Instagram always respond to what you've reported and tells you if what you reported was removed.”


“The content includes hard-core pornography with various acts, lots of bullying videos, and it’s fairly easy using the right emojis in the search engine to find illegal goods.” – Father of three


“You can set up privacy so only people that you know can see what you post. It is easy to block someone or delete comments.” – Mother of three


“Instagram is a brilliant way of keeping in touch with friends. Parents have to ensure children understand that accounts have to be private and that they cannot allow any follows from persons they do not know in real life.” – Mother of 10 and 18 yr olds


"A simple, fun & creative way to capture, edit & share photos, videos & messages with friends & family. A community of more than 800 million who capture and share the world's moments on the service."

O2 Guru's Top Tip for Instagram

O2 Guru Rosa says:

"Instagram has developed a filter that will block certain offensive comments on posts and in live video. All other comments will appear as they normally do and you can still report comments, delete comments or turn them off. Also, you can always turn this filter off. To access it, click the '…' settings menu from the profile and scroll to tap 'Comments'.”

Our O2 NSPCC Online Safety Helpline can help you to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks. You can call us free on 0808 800 5002.

For face to face advice and support, you can also book a free in-store appointment with an O2 Guru here (even if you’re not with O2). 


What's the right age for Instagram?


Instagram says

This is from Instagram’s own guidelines and is accurate as of March 2018.


Our panel of parents say

Based on our independent panel of 2,049 parents, surveyed through YouGov in January 2018.


Children say

Based on 2,059 responses from children and young people in November and December 2017.


Net Aware visitors say

Based on 3339 votes from visitors to the Net Aware site – you can vote too.

What do you think?

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Start a conversation with your child
about Instagram

Having open, regular conversations with your child will enable you to really understand and explore the online world together, helping you to keep them safe online. Our tips and advice can help you start having these conversations.

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