The popular photo and video-sharing app Instagram has been making a lot of changes to its platform recently. Just last month, users were pleasantly surprised to discover that the app increased its video time limit from 15 seconds to a full 60 seconds. And this past week, it began to roll out updates to the Explore page, including personalized video channels with filters like Featured and Videos You Might Like. While most users are pleased with some of these updates, one new feature, Instagram’s Push Notifications, are not sitting so well. We break down how the app’s newest layout could change the way it operates and what parents need to be concerned about.

What’s changing?

Instagram is attempting to improve the user experience by showing them the most “relevant” posts in their feed first instead of the chronological order in which they were posted. It will essentially prioritize the types of posts you see when scrolling through your feed’s updates, similar to the way Facebook’s News Feed works. Since its initial launch, Instagram has always shown the newest posts first; for example, a photo posted two seconds ago will show up before one posted five minutes ago. Instagram claims that its users miss about 70 percent of their feeds, making it harder to keep up with the photos and videos their followers are sharing. The thought behind this change is that the newest to oldest post order is what’s causing users to miss the posts that they “might care about the most.”

What do parents need to know?

Right now, the new layout is in beta phase, and as such is only being tested on a small group of people. Although Instagram says that users can expect to see this new experience in the coming months, there is no set date for when the full change is to roll out. However, that isn’t stopping Instagrammers from preparing for it. As you or your children may have noticed, many Instagram accounts are urging their followers to go their profiles and turn notifications on in an attempt to prevent their photos or videos from being missed when this new layout does take effect. In doing so, this means that your smartphone or tablet will receive push notifications anytime that particular user posts a new photo or video. This isn’t necessarily a safety concern for parents, but it does bring up another issue.

If your child turns notifications on for Nickelodeon’s Instagram account, for example, they will begin receiving push notifications every time Nickelodeon posts a new photo or video on its account. Not only could this get slightly annoying to receive an alert for every new post, but it could also result in a pretty hefty phone bill if your family is on a monthly data plan. Because apps use push notifications, having them enabled will eat at your cellular data every time you receive a notification (assuming you’re not connected to Wi-Fi). If you’re not carefully monitoring your cellular usage, this could result in overage fees from your cellular carrier.

Is there a way to disable push notifications?

Most devices, whether a tablet or smartphone, allow you to manage your push notification alerts under settings, but there’s also a way you can set specific notifications within each app. For Instagram, you can select notifications for every time someone likes, comments or tags you in a post as well as when new friends join Instagram. To disable these types of notifications, simply log into the Instagram app, go to your profile by selecting the person on the bottom right (red box below) and click on the icon in the top right-hand corner (purple box). If you have an Apple device, this icon will resemble a pinwheel, and if you have an Android device, it will be three dots. Next, click on Push Notification Settings and make your preferred selections.


The process is similar for enabling and disabling notifications for your followers as well, however, it’s important for parents to know that Instagram doesn’t automatically turn notifications on for every account you follow. Your children would have to go to each individual’s profile in order to do so. Because push notifications are not a new feature for Instagram, it’s important to talk to your children about it to see if they have any turned on, as well as to ensure they aren’t following any inappropriate accounts.

You can visit our parents’ guide to Instagram to learn more about how it works. And be sure to follow our parental controls blog for more tips on keeping your children safe online.