Apr 6, 2019

Using Parental Controls and Keeping Children Safe on Facebook and Instagram

written by Abby Avery

We all need to take responsibility for keeping children safe online, and this is also relevant for your own data-self. Whether your company utilises technology for children, students, vulnerable people, or you’re interested in this topic for the sake of yourself, your workplace or your own children, then this article is for you. This blog is one of two articles focusing on the issues of internet safety and how to take control back from online internet giants.

With increasingly younger children becoming more tech-savvy, and more unsuitable content being displayed on social media, parents, guardians, responsible adults and teachers are rightly concerned about what children are exposed to on these platforms. So, what can you do about it? How can you keep your children safe? Step forward Parental Controls.

Parental Controls is the name for a group of settings that help you to control the content that your child can see online. Combined with privacy settings, these can help you protect your child from things you don’t want them to see online.

Many parents put off using parental controls and settings, as they think they’ll be difficult to set up, or they’re unsure of the limitations and capabilities of the controls; but we’re here to help and to show you it’s not that difficult. Here’s how you can keep you children safe on Instagram and Facebook.


How to set-up parental controls on Instagram

Creating a private account- By default, all Instagram accounts are public. You can set your child’s account to private by clicking the three lines on the right-hand side of the profile, going to settings, privacy and security, account privacy and then setting the account to ‘private’.

Removing followers- You can manually remove followers you don’t want your children to have, by clicking onto followers and clicking the three dots beside a follower’s name and removing this follower. The follower will not be notified that they have been removed.


Unfollowing a user- If your child no longer wants to follow an account or you think the content that account produces is inappropriate, you can unfollow the account by clicking onto followers and unselecting following on that person’s name.

Blocking and reporting a user- Another way to get rid of an account which has inappropriate content is to block and report them. A user can be blocked by clicking the three dots on the side of their profile.

Reporting an image- If your child has viewed an inappropriate image, that may be promoting something that you think shouldn’t be on social media, you can report the image by clicking the three dots beside it. Instagram will ask for your reason for reporting the image.


Keep your child’s comments safe- Go to settings, privacy and security, comment controls. From this page, you can add filters to hide offensive comments or filter specific words. You can also turn off comments on a specific post by clicking the three dots on the right-hand side of the post and clicking ‘turn off commenting’.



Managing story settings- Make sure your child’s story settings are set so they only allow their followers to post replies to their stories via direct message. Also make sure ‘allow sharing’ is turned off, so your child’s stories can’t be shared to other accounts. This can be achieved by settings, privacy and security, story controls.


How to set-up parental controls on Facebook

Using Privacy Shortcuts- Go onto your child’s Facebook page and click the three dots with ‘more’, and then click ‘view privacy shortcuts’.


On privacy shortcuts, there is a great tool called ‘privacy check-up’, which makes sure your children are sharing their content with the right people.

The next step is to choose who you want your child to share their content with- friends, friends except (certain people) … or everyone.


The next section looks at your child’s profile and who can view that information. We recommend that most of this information is changed to ‘only me’ to keep information such as DOB and email as private as possible.


The final section reviews the apps and websites your child has used their Facebook account to log into. Check these apps, as they will be using data from the Facebook account. Delete the ones you don’t recognise.


Choose who views your child’s posts- Under privacy shortcuts you can also click under ‘who can see my stuff’ if you followed the steps under privacy check-up the results you chose will show up here too.

Receiving Facebook requests- Under ‘who can contact me’ on privacy settings, you can adjust who can send your child a Facebook friend request. We’d advise changing this to ‘friends of friends’ so that there is a reduction in the chance of a random, possibly unsafe person, being able to add your child as a ‘friend’.


Blocking on Facebook- Under privacy settings, you can block an account you think is inappropriate or causing harm to your child by clicking the ‘add to block list’ and by typing in their name under ‘how do I stop someone bothering me’.


We hope you’ve found these tips helpful and understand it really isn’t that difficult to set up controls on your children’s social media. The best advice we can give you, is to make sure you regularly check your child’s social media settings to make sure they can enjoy using these platforms safely and securely.

Our next article will look at the wider issues of internet safety and data protection which we currently face.