Adults Will No Longer Be Able To Message Kids Under 18 On Instagram

While online platforms have certainly brought the world together in ways our grandparents might never have dreamed possible — just think of the process to connect with your grandkids living on the other side of the country before Facebook came along — online safety has long been a thorny issue.

Instagram in particular has a dark history compared to its rosy reputation, one that has led it to take steps to reach its stated goal of becoming " the safest platform online."

The platform recently unveiled its latest measures intended to provide a safer experience for minors using the service, and they've included a measure to prevent any online stranger danger.

In their update, Instagram is banning adults from messaging kids if the kids don't already follow them.

Unsplash | Solen Feyissa

So, minors who follow their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents on the platform will still be able to direct message back and forth, but strangers unknown to the minors will not. Adults who try to message minors who don't follow them will receive a notification that messaging them isn't an option, Instagram said in a blog post.

"There are cases where it is appropriate for adults and teens to interact on Instagram but it’s important that teens be protected against unwanted contact from adults. Requiring that the teen – not the adult – establish the connection empowers teens to protect themselves," Larry Magrid, CEO of wrote in the post.

Instagram also announced that it would be leveraging machine learning to help keep minors safe in other ways.

For example, Instagram's behind-the-scenes tools will track "suspicious behavior," such as adults sending a large amount of friend or message requests to minors and alerting teens who are interacting with them.

They'll be given a "safety prompt" that will provide options to end the conversation, report, block, or restrict the adult. Such prompts may also remind younger users to "be careful sharing photos, videos, or information with someone you don't know."

Adults will also have a harder time finding minors on Instagram.

Instagram was not thorough in its post about how it would accomplish that, but suggested it may include preventing users exhibiting suspicious behaviors from even seeing teen content in Reels and Explore, or hiding their comments on public posts from teens.

The platform also encouraged minor users to create a private account rather than a public account, with more information on what that means when they set the account up.

For the new measures to be as effective as possible, users will have to be honest about their age when they sign up for an account, Instagram stressed.

Unsplash | Erik Lucatero

And they're hoping that machine learning can help catch those who aren't being truthful when they create accounts.

"While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth," the post reads. "We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people's age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with. To address this challenge, we’re developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features."

Instagram's new safety features are due to begin rolling out over the next month.

Unsplash | Amy Humphries

And the platform emphasized that they're just a starting point for keeping their younger users safe.

"We believe that everyone should have a safe and supportive experience on Instagram," the blog post reads. "These updates are a part of our ongoing efforts to protect young people, and our specialist teams will continue to invest in new interventions that further limit inappropriate interactions between adults and teens."

Read Instagram's full update right here.