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(Credit: Dragon Images/iStockphoto)

It can be tough for parents to have online safety conversations with their kids, but Instagram wants to make it easier. The popular social media site launched a parents portal to walk them through privacy settings, content controls, how the site works, and more.

Instead of making parents possibly feel suspicious of their kids, or making kids feel like their parents don't trust them, Instagram is trying to empower everyone. Having a working knowledge of social media might make kids and parents feel and act safer.

"(O)ur mission is to bring people closer to the people and things they love," the company said. Instagram reminds parents that their site isn't intended for children under 13.

The features aren't new, but Instagram wants parents to stay in the loop and up-to-date with the online world. The site provides quick tips, non-threatening questions for parents to start conversations with, positive role-model accounts to follow, and a handy glossary of Instagram terms.

On the site's well-being page, Instagram defines itself and states its commitment to keeping teens safe.

SEE: Instagram updates app with 'You're All Caught Up' feature to fight smartphone addiction

Instagram provides a number of tools parents can implement and understand to help keep their kids safe on social media.

1. Account privacy

Instagram explains on the page that accounts can be public or private. If accounts of private, any follow requests require an acceptance from the user, like Facebook. Until the request is accepted, no one can see any of the profile. Likewise, if it's public, all content is viewable and anyone can follow the user.

How to switch your account to private:

  1. Open Instagram app
  2. Tap the profile icon in the bottom right
  3. Tap the hamburger in the top right
  4. Tap Settings at the bottom of the screen
  5. Scroll down to Private Account and slide the toggle over

Users can switch back to a public account following the same steps at any time.

2. Comment control

One of the more stressful parts of social media is someone saying something hateful in your comment section, whether you know them or not. Instagram lets users manage who can comment on a post, block comments from certain users, hide offensive comments, and filter comments that contain specific phrases.

How to manage comments:

  1. Open Instagram app
  2. Tap the profile icon in the bottom right
  3. Tap the hamburger in the top right
  4. Tap Settings
  5. Scroll down to Comment Controls and select your preferences

3. Unfollowing users

If there's trouble with another user, whether it be harassment or inappropriate contact, you can also unfollow them without having to bother messing with your comment settings. Unfollowing on Instagram is the equivalent of Unfriending on Facebook.

How to unfollow someone:

  1. Open Instagram app
  2. Select the profile you don't want to follow anymore
  3. Tap the person icon with the checkmark next to it in upper right
  4. Instagram will ask if you want to unfollow the user
  5. Tap Unfollow

4. Control over Stories

Sharing stories on Instagram is another fun feature. Stories are just pictures or videos that expire in 24 hours unless archival settings are enabled. If they're archived, you can view them anytime. Anyone following your account can see your stories unless you change your settings.

How to manage story visibility:

  1. Open Instagram app
  2. Tap the profile icon in the bottom right
  3. Tap the hamburger in the top right
  4. Tap settings
  5. Scroll down to story controls and select preferences

5. Time Management

Instagram knows social media can be addicting, but says it should be up to families to decide how much is too much. To get a possible idea of how much time you spend scrolling, Instagram has a Time Spent feature.

Your time spend on Instagram is broken down in a bar graph showing average times spent on the app that week.

How to track your time on Instagram

  1. Open Instagram app
  2. Tap profile icon in the bottom right
  3. Tap settings
  4. Tap Your Activity

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Takeaways

  1. Instagram launched a parent portal that explains how the site works and how parents can keep their children safe on it.
  2. The site outlined steps to manage privacy, comments, unfollow users, and manage time on social media.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.