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Instagram is a well-known social media platform focused on visual media. It allows users to share photos and videos, follow friends and influencers, send messages, and set trends.
Recent Instagram statistics show 35% of American teens prefer the app over other platforms. The format and concept of Instagram are what attract teenagers and tweens to the platform.
Using social media and platforms focused on visual content poses internet safety and security problems for kids. Children are known to be visual learners and are influenced by what they see.
In this article, learn how you can set up parental controls on your child’s Instagram to keep them safe in the app.
|Legal and Ethical Note – This article is mainly written from a parent’s point of view. We want to ensure our kids are always safe. However, checking or using spy apps to monitor and view people’s mobile phones and information might be legally restricted in other locations. We do not encourage anyone to do any ILLEGAL activity. Before using the suggested apps or websites, ensure it is legally allowed in your country.|
- Family Center is Instagram’s new parental control tool.
- Supervision in Family Center monitors a child’s Instagram account; parents can view their child’s followers and following, app usage, and reports their child made on the app.
- Instagram also updated its Privacy setting, making accounts aged 16 and below private.
Setting Up Parental Control on Instagram and its Benefits
Parental controls help parents monitor a child’s digital activity. This can range from messages and interactions on a child’s account.
Conversely, Instagram’s new parental control tool will assist parents in setting a safe social media presence for their children who want to use the app.
Instagram Age Restrictions
Social media platforms strictly adhere to a 13+ age requirement. This follows Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)—a law established to protect the privacy and information of children aged 13 and below.
COPPA allows parents to monitor and view their children’s online activity and requires parental permission before children can access the platforms. However, COPPA doesn’t include teens, which are children aged 13 and up.
Instagram’s age requirement is 13+, but children below 13 can still have an account – provided the profile is managed by an adult (posted on the bio). Users who violate this term are subject to account suspension or deletion.
With Instagram’s recent update, users aged 16+ and below are automatically set as Private Accounts. But teens can still change this setting. The app will periodically notify a 16 below account to change its Privacy Setting.
These age restrictions may be a step towards protecting children from the dangers of the internet. However, parents also have to option to set up parental control on their minor child’s account for added security.
The Dangers of Social Media Apps to Children and Teens
According to a Michigan State University study, a child is more likely to develop behaviors and personalities through digital or environmental modeling.
This can lead to negative characteristics such as
- Peer pressure and Cyberbullying
- Negative body image
- Submission to risky behavior
- Attachment to unhealthy relationships
- Desensitization to inappropriate content
- Development of depression and anxiety
Pew Research Center’s survey on social media use among teens presented that 62% of teenagers aged 15-17 use Instagram. Due to this, Instagram recently debuted the Family Center and Supervision tools for parents to monitor their child’s account and use.
With the Family Center and Supervision feature, parents can manage their child’s interactions, what they see, their time within the app, privacy, and security.
How to Access Family Center and Supervision Tools
Instagram released this new feature to allow parents to view and see what their child posts, who they follow, who followed them, and who or what they reported.
To set-up this feature, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to Profile and click the hamburger (mobile) or gear icon (pc) to access Settings.
Step 2: Tap on Supervision to open the Family Center.
Step 3: Tap Create Invite and select an Invite option (through an account or a link).
Step 4: Send your child the Link or Invite.
Step 5: Wait for your child to approve the invite.
How to Set Up Supervision on Your Child’s Account
Setting up supervision using a child’s and parent’s accounts is the same. The only difference is who initiated the invite. If the parent is doing the invite, a notification for an invite to supervise an account will show on the child’s notification panel (if made through an account search, not a link)
Alternatively, if a child invites a parent to supervise their account, a parents Instagram account will receive a notification for supervision will show on a parent’s notification panel.
How to Switch to a Private Account
This feature prevents non-followers from viewing an account’s posts, comments, stories, videos, and follower/following list.
Step 1: Go to Profile, and tap the hamburger button to access Settings.
Step 2: Tap on Privacy with the padlock icon.
Step 3: Toggle the slide beside Private Account.
Step 4: Return to the Profile. A padlock icon should be beside the username to signify a Private Account.
How To Set Up Sensitive Content Control
This new feature helps limit sensitive content on your child’s feed or explore pages.
Step 1: Go to Profile and tap on the hamburger icon to go to Settings.
Step 2: Tap on Account and then on Sensitive Content Control.
Step 3: Tap on Less to limit sensitive content on your child’s account.
How to Set Up Message Controls
This feature prevents strangers from messaging a child’s account; only people your child knows or who follow them can send a message.
Step 1: Go to Settings, and tap Privacy. Scroll down and tap Messages.
Step 2: On Potential Connections, set them as Request except for People with your phone number.
Step 3: On the Other People tab, set them to Don’t receive requests.
Step 4: On Group Chats, set it to Only People You Follow on Instagram.
Optional: If you don’t want Facebook or Messenger friends to message your child, you can change the setting to Don’t receive requests.
How to Hide Offensive Messages and Comments
Parents can access the Hidden Words feature to prevent children and teens from encountering harmful, offensive, and inappropriate words from comments and messages.
This feature can hide certain words, use an advanced filtering system to include similar expressions and create a custom list of words to avoid.
Step 1: Go to Settings and tap on Privacy.
Step 2: Under the Interactions tab, tap on Hidden Words (besides the open-eye icon).
Step 3: Turn on all options to a more secure filtering system.
Step 4: Alternatively, you can create a list of words you want to avoid or block under the Manage custom words and phrases.
How To Edit Ad Preference
Instagram’s new update limited Ad Reach and Advertisements to children aged 18 and below, which means the app restricts ads such as smoking, alcohol, and sexual products from showing on a child’s feed.
Step 1: Go to Settings and tap Ad Preferences.
Step 2: Choose to See Less or No Preference.
How to Manage Screen Time on Instagram
Limiting screen time helps children use their time effectively. It helps lessen the risks of developing undesirable behavior linked to excessive use of social media and other platforms.
Instagram also developed a feature to include an option for parents to limit their child’s screen time.
The app now has Time Breaks, Daily Time Limits, and Quiet Mode. These are available only on the app. With this, parents can set a healthy digital diet for children and teens while ensuring they get the best out of their accounts.
How to Set Schedule Time Breaks and Daily Time Limit
Time Breaks is a feature that reminds users to take breaks from using a platform, while Daily Time Limits is a feature that limits a child’s usage of the app. These can be set automatically or automatically.
Step 1: Go to Profile, tap the hamburger icon, and tap Your Activity.
Step 2: Click on Time Spent. Under Manage Your Time, click Set reminder to take breaks to notify the account when to take a break.
Step 2.1: Click on Set daily time limit to limit app use.
How to Set up Quiet Mode
This feature mutes the notifications from the app. In this way, children can focus on their activities without being distracted by their phones.
Step 1: Go to Settings.
Step 2: Go to Notifications and tap on Quiet Mode.
You can set a timer for Quiet Mode and disable it anytime. Toggle it off in Notifications when needed.
Parents should base these controls on their household’s screen time rules so that children will understand the purposes of these limitations.
Other Parental Control and Security Features of Instagram
Instagram has more features that parents can use to limit and block harmful content. Some of these are standard app features, but some are new and part of Instagram’s plan to make the platform child and teen-friendly.
Here’s how to use and set them up:
How to Block An Account
Blocking prevents users from unwanted content within the platform. Parents can use this feature to protect their child’s accounts from potential harm. When blocking an account, they won’t be able to see your child’s posts, followers, following, or send a message.
Step 1: To block an account from messages, tap the DM icon and select the account you want to block.
Step 2: Tap on their username at the top of the chatbox.
Step 3: Scroll down and tap Block.
Step 4: You can Block the account of Block other accounts they have or will have. Tap Block. You also have the option to Report or Delete the chat.
Step 6: To block an account using their profile, tap on the kebab icon in the top right corner.
Step 7: Tap Block and select a block option.
Step 8: Tap on Block or Block and Report.
How to Restrict An Account
The restriction is another way to subtly block or limit an account from your child’s profile.
When you restrict a profile, they won’t be able to know when you’re online or if you’ve seen their messages. Only that individual can view their comments on your posts, and you can decide whether to see them by pressing view comment.
Step 1: Go to the Profile of the person you want to restrict and tap on the kebab icon in the top right corner.
Step 2: Tap on Restrict. A window will pop up, letting you know what happens when you restrict. Tap Dismiss.
Step 3: A restricted profile will look like this. You can click on Unrestrict if you want to stop restricting the account.
How to Mute An Account
Muting an account works by restricting an account’s stories and posts from showing up on your child’s feed. At the same time, the account will not know that they’ve been muted.
Step 1: Go to the profile you want to mute and tap the Following button.
Step 2: Tap on Mute and select which content to mute.
Step 3: You have the option to Mute Posts or Stories.
How to Control Tagging and Mentioning
Tagging and mentioning is one of the ways users on Instagram communicate. However, some users will use this feature to spread malicious content or use it for cyberbullying and harassment.
Step 1: Go to Settings and tap Privacy, Posts, and Mentions.
Step 2: In the Post settings, under the Who can tag you tab, tap on People You Follow to allow followers and friends to tag the account; alternatively, tap on No One to prevent tagging.
Step 2.1: Under Tagged Posts, tap on Manually Approve Tags to turn it on. This allows your child to view who tagged them and approve it manually.
Step 3: In the Mentions settings, tap on People You Follow to allow mentions from followers and friends or to No One to block mentions.
How to Control Content Recommendation
This feature works by selecting and marking specific posts or content that might harm or show indecency.
Step 1: To hide a post, click the kebab icon on the screen’s upper or lower right side.
Step 2: Tap on Not Interested.
Step 3: Choose among Don’t suggest posts with certain words (this will redirect to Hidden Words settings), Manage Suggested Content, or tap on This post made me uncomfortable for inappropriate content.
Other Tools To Control Children’s Access on Instagram and Other Apps
Instagram and its built-in features may not be enough for some parents. Older children or teens can bypass these features.
We highly recommend eyeZy. This parental monitoring app allows parents to access a child’s device.
Parents who want more secure parental control over their children can benefit from this app by using it to monitor their child’s daily activities online. It can also view messages, images, videos, browsing history, downloaded apps, social media, and many others.
Parents should note that using spy apps on children aged 18+ is illegal without their consent.
Instagram’s Family Center and Supervision Tools took notes from parents and made the platform secure for children’s use. Their Family Center also enabled families to approach social media use as a source of quality time and to promote positive conversations about the benefits of social media.
The focus of parental control tools and spy apps is to ensure that children and parents understand the risks of using social networking sites. Through this, children will learn to be mindful of what they do online and be responsible for their activities.