Wondering how you can keep your teen safe while they're using Instagram?

Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social media platform, allowing users from across the globe to share visual media with other users. Because member photos and videos are easily searchable, including your teen’s uploads, you’ll want to consider making your teen’s account private.

There are several reasons why, if your teen has social media, you want them to have an Instagram private account, but safety tops the list. Most social media platforms, including Instagram, make it incredibly easy for a user to post or share their location inadvertently and while you may not want your child advertising where they are at any given time, having a private Instagram account can significantly limit who sees your teen’s posts.

This is the perfect time to brush up on your social media knowledge before letting your teen open social media accounts, and make sure you have a conversation with your teen about social media and privacy.

Here’s a tip - outline your expectations and put a plan in place with our helpfulsocial media contract for tweens and teens.

Why Private Instagram Accounts Are Safer

There’s no question that social media has opened worlds for users and allowed people to connect over shared interests and experiences, but with all of the positives come negatives, especially with minors. The obvious reason why parents should monitor their teen’s Instagram privacy settings is to ensure that their profile is only being seen by friends and family members, limiting their exposure to online strangers who may be trolling on the platform.

Because Instagram is a visual platform, your teen will be sharing photos and videos they take throughout their day. After a photo or video is taken and filters are added, Instagram gives users the option of adding their location to the post, a detail that’s enticing to teens but can pose obvious safety issues. Preferably, your teen won’t ever share their location on social media, but if they do, it’s better if their account is set to private, so only friends they know are able to see their posts.

By keeping their Instagram account private -- or any social media account, for that matter -- they’re limiting their digital footprint. Think about how many public figures have lost their jobs or sponsorships because of an ill-thought-out post on a social media platform? Teen brains are still developing, which means that they’re more likely to post something inappropriate without thinking through the consequences. The unfortunate result of which is a digital footprint that can be seen by potential colleges and employers. Maintaining a private Instagram account limits your teen’s digital footprint and exposure of their information on the internet.

Looking for more social media tips? Read Social Media Etiquette Rules for Teens.

Knowing how vital your teen’s online privacy is, here’s how to make Instagram private in 3 easy steps:

1. Log into account and navigate to your user profile

Whether accessing through the app or online, you’ll need to log into the Instagram account you wish to set to private and navigate to the user profile.

  • Through the mobile app, users will tap the person icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen
  • On a personal computer, users will click on the person icon in the upper right-hand corner of their screen

2. Navigate to the Settings menu

Once users have successfully logged into their Instagram account and navigated to their profile screen, they need to find to their profile Settings to adjust account privacy.

  • Mobile app users will find the Settings menu by tapping the three lines in the upper right-hand corner of their screen and tapping Settings at the very bottom.
  • On a personal computer, users will find the Settings menu to the right of their username and “Edit Profile” option, represented by a gear icon.

3. Select “Privacy and Security” under the Settings menu

  • In the mobile app, users will scroll down to the Privacy and Security subheading under Settings and select the first option: Account Privacy. You’ll then tap the slider to set your Instagram account to private.
  • On a personal computer, select Privacy and Security from the pop-up menu that appears on the screen tap the box to the left of Private Account, under the Account Privacy subheading, to select and make your Instagram account private.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you turn off comments on Instagram?

Instagram offers users the ability to remove commenting from their posts before posting to their feed by selecting Advanced Settings after they caption a new post; the Advanced Settings option is at the bottom of the screen below social media sharing options. Under Advanced Settings, users tap the slider to the right of Turn Off Commenting to remove commenting from their post. Users can also remove commenting after posting by selecting the post, tapping the menu and selecting the Remove Comments option.

If a hashtag is used on Instagram, can people discover a private account?

No, if a user’s account is set to private their account and posts that use the hashtag will not show up in searches made by other users.

How can you delete an Instagram private account?

To delete your Instagram account, you must first be logged into the account you wish to permanently delete. It’s important to note that you can’t delete your Instagram account through the app; you must log into your account via web and navigate to the Delete Your Account page. Instagram will provide a menu of options to give the reason for deleting your account; once you select the reason, you’ll select Permanently Delete My Account.

Can you make changes to Instagram privacy settings on mobile and desktop?

Yes, you can make changes to Instagram privacy settings on both mobile and desktop by selecting the Account Privacy option under the Settings menu.

Who can see private Instagram accounts?

Only those approved friends can view posts and stories from private Instagram accounts.

Can you change a private Instagram account back to public?

Yes, you can change a private Instagram account back to public by selecting the Account Privacy option under the Settings menu.

How Parents Can Keep Teens Safe Online

It’s important to remember that social media platforms aren’t set up to be filtered, so their native privacy controls should be treated with caution and only be used as your first line of defense to protect your kids online. Your teen can easily make their account public on their own, which is why it is essential to monitor your child’s Instagram account and check in with them from time to time.

While Instagram offers comment filtering to help screen for offensive and profane comments, there will be times when kids either outsmart the filtering or comments somehow make their way through. With Zift you can control the content to which your child is exposed and can access. Using Net Nanny’s Smart Filtering technology, the Zift app filters content in real-time, which is necessary for rapid-fire social platforms.

Limiting your child’s digital footprint and protecting their personal information online is made easier by learning how to set their social media accounts to private. Because teens can change their privacy settings at any time, parents should continue to monitor their social media accounts from time to time and consider using a parental control app to help manage their kids’ digital lives.

Learn more about guiding your children in their digital lives: How to Avoid a Bad Digital Footprint on Social Media.