The important conversation about Instagram you need to have now with your teen

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Talking to teenagers about serious topics can feel awkward, but it's an aspect of parenting that we have to accept and roll with.

Instagram and ReachOut are urging parents to prioritise conversations about social media, launching a support guide for parents to follow when tacking the often mystifying and complex topic.

Ensuring that social media use isn't adversely affecting teenagers' mental health and their education is just part of the social climate parents find themselves navigating today, with no historical precedent to inform them.

The step-by-step practical guide assists parents in understanding the platform and the ways their teens are using it. The guide also helps parents initiate conversations with teenagers, with lead-in questions around behaviour.

Download the guide at

ReachOut - an Australian online mental health and wellbeing service for young people and their parents - says, "Talking to young people about how they use social media can be daunting for parents - but it shouldn't be confusing."

The new guide aims to clear up difficulties many parents and carers encounter around privacy and behaviour on social media, as well as providing cues to open up discussion with their teens.

​How will the guide help you?

The guide will help you demystify:

  • Managing privacy - with a step-by step visual guide
  • Managing interactions - highlights all the tools you may not have been aware of - such as filtering, blocking, restrictions and warnings - needed to protect your teen from unwanted content
  • Managing screen time - see how the activity dashboard works and set time limits. See how reminders and notifications can be adjusted.
Photo: Instagram / ReachOut

Photo: Instagram / ReachOut

What questions should you ask your teen?

There are two quick-reference pages in the guide with the kinds of questions that can facilitate conversations.

Of course teens being teens, we suggest you space them out a little!

  • 5 tips to help parents support their teen with social media
  • ​10 questions to help you talk with your teen

Of the inspiration for the guide, Mia Garlick, Director of Policy for Facebook Australia, said in a statement, "We feel a responsibility to keep everyone in our community safe, especially young people who may turn to their parents for help in using Instagram."

Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut Australia added, "The new Guide we've developed with Instagram provides parents with simple strategies to support clear and open conversations with young people about using social media in safe ways."

"For many parents, social media can be challenging because it's not something they grew up with, and platforms and safety features are constantly changing. Each year ReachOut Parents provide hundreds of thousands of parents with information, tips and support so that they can help their teenager across a whole range of issues, including the challenges of using social media safely."