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Has your child converted their Instagram account to a business account?

By Tim Mitchell on 14 Aug, 2019

If your child has an Instagram account, here’s a new concern you should be aware of.

It’s arisen from the fact that over the last few months, the largest social media and photo sharing platform on the planet has been steadily extending its initiative to exclude the number of likes on posts. This is in response to concerns that social media platforms can contribute to low self esteem and feelings of inadequacy in young people. In this case, Instagram is saying that a contributory factor to this is the quantity of likes not meeting a young user’s own expectations – or being lower than that achieved by their peers. On the face of it, a responsible move.

But unsurprisingly, young people have found a workaround, and it’s one that flies in the face of one of the basics of online safety and child protection.

A growing number of kids are converting their personal Instagram profiles into business accounts to enable access to more in-depth audience data on the performance of their posts, the key stat being likes.

So what’s the problem?

Swapping to an Instagram business accounts requires providing additional contact information, like a phone number or email address. These details are publicly accessible in the bio of the business – even if that’s a 14 year-old masquerading as a business. Also, of course, we all know that despite the lower age limit to sign up for an Instagram account is 13, many below that age simply enter a different date of birth (yes, another simple workaround). So millions of kids above and below 13 have publicly listed contact details, right there on the platform. A disaster waiting to happen.

I should add that on Instagram’s ‘Controlling Your Visibility’ guidance page, there’s a highlighted caveat that advises ‘Keep in mind that business profiles aren't able to make their accounts private. If you want to make your business account private, first switch back to a personal account.’ But what 14 (or 9) year-old is going to give two hoots about that, when their cred’s totally at risk?

 As a parent, guardian or other responsible adult, you may or may not be able to look at your child’s Instagram account. Whichever the case, it’s a good subject with which to start or continue a conversation on online safety and digital responsibility.

Why not do it this weekend?