'I found explicit photos on the secret Instagram of a 16yo girl I used to babysit. HELP!'

Parenting was easier in a time before Instagram.

While the social media app offers an unlimited supply of brunch recommendations, animal videos and DIY ideas, it’s also another avenue where children and teens can engage in potentially unsafe behaviour with parents none the wiser.

However, not only do parents need to worry about their teen’s public profile now, there’s also a rise in the private, secondary, secret Instagram account, which adults potentially don’t have access to and aren’t able to monitor.

Calling for help on the This Glorious Mess hotline, Mamamia’s podcast for imperfect parents, one listener posed a particularly tricky dilemma.

We explain the increasing trend of teens who create private, second Instagram accounts. Post continues after the video. 

Video by MMC

Here’s what she had to say.

“I used to babysit for two young girls until their family moved interstate. I haven’t seen them in four years, but I have the whole family including the daughters on my Facebook and Instagram,” she shared.

“I message back and forth with the mum a couple of times a year. My dilemma is that the oldest daughter has a hidden Instagram account. She’s 16 and on her hidden Instagram, she’s posted nude and provocative photos of herself doing what looks like drugs and engaging in types of sexual intercourse. HELP.


“I don’t want to slut shame her at all, I just worry this is a phase and with all this content being online you can’t take it back if she decides she no longer wants it out in the world. She’s also the daughter of someone in the public eye and I just worry these pictures will come back and embarrass her as she gets older.”

A dilemma indeed.

She continued to list her options:

“Do I, A: Tell the mum discreetly,” she wrote.

“Do I, B: Talk to her directly [the daughter].

“Or do I, C: Do nothing, it’s none of my business.”

Listen to the entire episode of This Glorious Mess: The Kids are Walking Out, where Holly and Andrew talk accompanying your child to school camp and the 15-year-old girl organising a school walk out for climate change.

Responding immediately, Holly said the listener had to definitely tell the mum.

“The thing is it’s not a big betrayal of trust, she’s 16, she’s not 18, so she’s not an adult,” said Holly.

There are of course other tactics parents can use to ensure their children are behaving appropriately on Instagram.

“This is why people say you should always do spot checks on your kid’s phone,” says Holly.

“Without them knowing, at anytime. Random, handover your phone for a spot check.”

Another way is to get family friends to follow the account – which is what the anonymous listener is doing here.

“I’ve got friends who say, you follow ‘blah-blah’ on Instagram, so you can tell me if there’s anything I should be worried about,” says Holly.

Either way both Andrew and Holly agreed that they should tell the mother.

Do you agree? What would your advice be for our distressed listener?

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