How to Set up Instagram Parental Controls

Restrict Instagram sensitive content and keep your kids safer

Instagram is a popular and fun app for people of all ages, but it can also be a place where virtually anyone can come across scams, explicit content, harassment, cyberbullying, and abuse. That's why it's important to set up Instagram Parental Controls before your kids encounter sensitive content.

How Old Do You Have to be to Have an Instagram Account?

Many parents wonder if they can have access to their teen's Instagram account. According to Instagram, privacy laws forbid them to give anyone — even a parent — access to an account that belongs to an authorized account holder.

An authorized account holder is any user who is at least 13 years old. This means that as a parent of a teen who's at least 13 years old, you'll have to work with your teen to take several extra security and privacy measures across their account to help keep them safe.

If an Instagram user is under the age of 13, it must be clearly stated in the profile description that the account is managed by a parent or manager. If your child is under the age of 13 and their account is not being managed by a parent or manager, you can report the account as belonging to an underage user to have it removed from Instagram.

A teenage girl looking at her smartphone.
Inti St Clair / Getty Images

How to Increase Your Parental Control Over Your Teen's Instagram Account

Instagram doesn't have any parent-specific safety or security features built into the platform to help parents oversee the account of their teens who are 13 years old or older. However, you and your teen work together by taking advantage of the general safety and security features (as well as best practices) to help prevent them from being exposed or falling victim to anything suspicious or abusive.

  1. Set your teen's profile to private. When a profile is private, only followers can see the profile's posts and stories. New users who decide to follow a private profile must be approved first.

    Even if your teen tags their posts with a location tag or a hashtag, it won't be viewable by non-followers.

  2. Remove unknown followers. This doesn't block them — it simply removes your teen's profile from the users that they're following so posts and stories don't show up in their feed anymore. If a removed follower tries to refollow and your teen's profile is set to private, they can be rejected.

  3. Avoid including personal information in the profile's bio description. A private account will still show a name, profile picture, bio description and website to non-followers. For this reason, it's important to make sure your teen refrains from including personal information like their address, phone number, social networking links, school, location and more.

  4. Filter out unwanted comments so they don't appear on posts. From your teen's comment settings (Profile > Menu > Settings > Privacy > Comments), you can turn on a general Hide Offensive Comments setting or use the Manual Filter setting to enter keywords that you don't want to see. Any comments caught by these filters will automatically be filtered out by anyone who tries to post them.

  5. Block comments from specific people. In your teen's comments settings, you can select Block Comments From and then search for people to add to this list. Anyone who's added won't be notified that they've been blocked from commenting on your posts or stories. When they try to leave a comment, it will only be visible to them—not to your teen or to anyone else.

  6. Hide stories from specific followers. Stories can be hidden from any individual or multiple followers so they never appear in their stories feed or as an update on your teen's profile. This can be useful if your teen shares stories that aren't appropriate for or applicable to particular followers.

  7. Use Close Friends when sharing stories. Your teen can use Instagram's Close Friends feature to create a list of people they want to share their stories with on a more private basis. This offers a similar solution to hiding stories from certain people by encouraging your teen to only share stories with the most relevant people.

  8. Restrict interaction from certain users. Tap the three dots in the top right corner of a user's profile and select Restrict. Only your teen and the restricted user will be able to see comments that the restricted user leaves on your teen's posts (until the comment is approved). Direct messages will also show up as message requests, which can be approved or rejected before reading them.

  9. Block users on Instagram. Blocking a user is necessary if you don't want a particular user to be able to try to follow your teen or send them any direct messages. When your teen blocks someone on Instagram, their profile is completely hidden and inaccessible to that blocked user—even if they try to search for them.

  10. Talk to your teen about Instagram scams. There are several scams like the Instagram money scam that can be mistaken for legitimate account activity. Make sure you and your teen are aware of the most current scams on the platform and report any accounts that look suspicious. To report an account, tap the three dots in the top right corner of the user's profile (or direct message chat), then tap Report.