How can I control my child’s social media use? (2023)

Why do social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc deem children ‘adults’ in the vast and dangerous world of technology? My 14-year-old is engaging in a toxic relationship with a girl on Instagram. I am not allowed access to his account as it is protected by their user privacy protection agreement. How can a mother have their child’s account removed?

Earlier, I helped my son create a Gmail account for school purposes. I was not aware back then that there was something called Google Family Link. He used the account without any problems for years, but he has changed the password. There is explicit content in his emails that I need to get access to. As with Instagram, I cannot contact anyone at Google via phone, live chat etc, and helpful links keep sending me around in circles. How can I take back the account I created? Julia

The British government sets a minimum age for some things, such as drinking, driving and voting. It doesn’t have a minimum age for online activities. According to Ofcom (2015), 67% of five to seven year olds, 91% of eight to 11 year olds and 98% of 12 to 15 year olds use online services, and there are “walled garden” services – Moshi Monsters, Disney Club Penguin, CBeebies – that target much younger users than your son.

The government recognises the risks of being online, but still hasn’t implemented roughly half the recommendations in Dr Tanya Byron’s report, Safer Children in a Digital World, released 10 years ago. And as she has just pointed out at the NSPCC, Instagram, SnapChat and WhatsApp didn’t even exist in 2008.

As things stand, most social networks and email services are American, and they work to an American law known as the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (Coppa). Free services make money by profiling users for advertising purposes. Coppa requires verified parental consent (VPC) for the collection of personal information about children under 13. It’s simpler and cheaper for services to ban under 13s, and remove any it finds, than to obtain that consent. Instagram has a removal form.

(Video) How to Control Kids' Social Media Usage?

The European Union, which strives for better privacy protection, tried to increase the age requirement to 16. However, after lobbying, the EU decided to allow individual countries to set their own age of consent and, as you would expect, the UK opted out. As a result, the UK is governed by the American law as implemented by Facebook, Instagram and the rest.

These companies would make no profit from losing a legal user, and removing your son’s accounts would incur a cost. You can guess how likely that is.

Talking to you or answering your questions would incur a much greater cost, so that’s not likely either.

If you have 2.13 billion active users – which Facebook does – and 10% of them have one question per year, you would need to hire enough staff to answer 4mquestions a week. That’s not feasible for a free service.

Who controls the phone?

How can I control my child’s social media use? (1)
(Video) How to Control Your Kids' Internet

Very few adult services allow parents to set up child accounts. The exceptions include Microsoft, which offers child accounts in Microsoft Windows, and Google, which offers Family Link for recent Android phones (mostly version 7 and later) and Apple iPhones (iOS 9 and later), as long as you live in the US, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. The drawback with Family Link is that you’d have to set up a new Gmail account for your son.

However, you will only be able to access your son’s current Facebook, Instagram and Gmail accounts if you have physical access to his phone, and you know the password, if any. (I’m assuming he stores the passwords to other services on his phone.)

You will have to persuade him to agree to this.

Once you control the phone, you can install a parental-control program. There are quite a few of them, including TeenSafe, NetNanny, My Mobile Watchdog, Qustodio, Mobile Guardian, MMGuardian and OurPact. Mobile Spy and PhoneSherrif are Android only. Some anti-malware vendors also offer control programs. Examples include Norton Family Premier, AVG Family Center, and ESET Parental Control.

Most programs are available in free versions, but you will probably need to pay a monthly or annual subscription to get the controls you want.

Unfortunately, I have not looked at any parental control programs for well over a decade, so I can’t help you pick one. Some Ask Jack readers may have recommendations below. Make a shortlist of programs that offer the functions you need, then search for online reviews.

(Video) Top 5 Best Parental Control Apps [SPY ON YOUR KIDS]

Note also that there are many other communications and social networking programs besides Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Gmail. Nowadays many children use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, WeChat, Kik, and Some may use Viber, Line or even QQ. Most use YouTube. There are also lots of free alternatives to Gmail.

Even if you control his phone, your son may be able to access services via other devices such as PCs and tablets, either at home or at friends’ houses. In most cases, he can set up new accounts using any fake name or pseudonym he wants, a made-up birthday, and other spurious details. Few sites apart from Facebook try to enforce a real names policy.

Few free sites have a way of checking someone’s age, and asking for a credit card number or government-backed ID would just stop people from signing up. Amusingly, the domain name that the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) suggested to “stay informed about the development of a public standard for age verification by the British Standards Institute” – – is currently for sale for $1,795.

Network blocking

An alternative sanction would be to block access to sites that you don’t want your son to use.

Most British internet service providers offer age-related filtering services, which are supposed to stop under 18s from seeing harmful content. Mobile network operators also provide filtering, and the largest UK networks may apply it by default to new phones. You usually have to be an age-verified adult bill payer to change this.

(Video) Best Parental Control Router - Use Your Router to Limit Kid's Internet Usage

The Open Rights Group’s Blocked website says it has detected more than 600,000 sites that have been blocked by one or more of BT, Virgin, Sky, Vodafone, EE and O2. Many are ridiculous, including ClassicFM and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Unreliable as their filtering may be, network-level blocking does help some parents, though it won’t solve your problems.

However, you can get better family filtering by using OpenDNS, and this also allows you to block specific sites such as Facebook and Instagram. How-To Geek has an illustrated guide, How to Use OpenDNS on Your Router, PC, Tablet, or Smartphone.

DNS is the internet’s domain name system. It translates memorable names (such as into the numerical IP addresses (such as used to navigate to internet sites. Usually, your ISP will provide your DNS service, but OpenDNS Home offers a free alternative.

Normally, this will only change the DNS when the phone is using wifi. However, there is an Android app that claims to change the DNS for the mobile data network as well. I have not tried it, and can’t confirm that it will work with your network, or at all.

If you take these routes, you may be in for an extended game of Whac-A-Mole. It would be better to work towards a negotiated social solution, rather than a technological one.

(Video) Social Media Safety Tips For Our Kids, Safety Parental Control Tips and Tricks

Have you got a question? Email it to


How do I control my kids social media? ›

Get online family protection. Programs that provide parental controls can block websites, enforce time limits, monitor the websites your child visits, and their online conversations. Follow your child's online accounts, and tell them that you are monitoring their online activity to help keep them safe.

How can I monitor my child's social media usage? ›

10 Ways To Monitor Your Child's Social Media Use
  1. 10/10 Friend Them On Their Accounts.
  2. 9/10 Link Their Accounts To Yours.
  3. 8/10 Encourage Open Communication.
  4. 7/10 Only Allow Social Media On Computers.
  5. 6/10 Get KidLogger.
  6. 5/10 Download RealizD App.
  7. 4/10 Look At Their Social Media History.
  8. 3/10 View Their Profile Frequently.
13 Nov 2019

How can parents reduce the negative effects of social media? ›

If it's clear that social media is affecting a child's mental well-being, parents could recommend taking a break to see how their child feels without it, or suggest deleting the account altogether. “There are some kids who can break the cycle, and sometimes it takes the parent to help with that,” says Dr. Radzik.

What advice can you give other children who use social media? ›

Social Media Safety Tips for Children
  • Be your own person. ...
  • Be nice. ...
  • Think about what you post. ...
  • Do not add people you don't know on social media accounts. ...
  • Never send inappropriate pictures or engage in sexual conversations with peers or strangers. ...
4 Jun 2019

How do I stop my child from using Instagram? ›

Block Instagram app on iPhone or Android phones:
  1. Open the Mobile Guardian dashboard.
  2. Go to Application Security Settings.
  3. View all the apps installed on the phone or device.
  4. Scroll down and select Instagram.
12 Mar 2018

Why should parents control their children's activities on social media? ›

If you've got young children using the internet, parental controls of some sort are a necessity to ensure they are kept safe from threats online. These threats include predators, cybercriminals, cyberbullying and inappropriate content.

How do I monitor my child's internet activity? ›

Between the internet and countless social media apps, keeping kids safe and knowing what they're looking at online is a growing concern.
In the meantime, here are some apps that help parents monitor their kids' online activity.
  1. Net Nanny. ...
  2. Qustodio. ...
  3. MamaBear. ...
  4. OurPact. ...
  5. Kaspersky Safe Kids.
16 May 2019

How can I see everything on my child's phone? ›

The most legitimate way to monitor kid's phone remotely is by using professional parental control app. You install a parental control app on your kid's phone and parents can check everything that their kid does on his phone remotely from parent's device. This is the best option for both Android and iOS users.

How should parents monitor their children's internet use? ›

To keep an eye on a child's social media activity, parents can set up accounts of their own and check their child's pages and activity for themselves. Many parents also insist on knowing the passwords to their kids' accounts, although some parents may consider this an invasion of privacy.

How can we solve the problem of social media? ›

What are the solutions to Handle Social Media Challenges?
  1. Creating a social media marketing plan. ...
  2. Examining the effectiveness of social media. ...
  3. Managing your time. ...
  4. Increasing audience participation. ...
  5. Dipping Organic reach. ...
  6. Increasing your number of followers. ...
  7. Calculating the Return on Investment.

How can we solve the effect of social media? ›

To focus on the good and avoid the common pitfalls, there are a few habits to help us use social media more mindfully: Spend less time on social platforms. One study found that reducing social media use to a maximum of a half hour a day led to a decrease in feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

How can parents prevent social media addiction? ›

The most important thing in preventing the development of social media addiction is paying attention to your child's behavior. It's important to ensure that your child has plenty of things going on offline to keep him or her interested.

What is your advice to the youth who are using social media today? ›

Develop communication and technical skills

As social media is now a part of everyday life, it is important for children and young people to learn how to communicate online to prepare them for future opportunities in the workplace and support them in interacting with friends and family.

How can youth protect themselves from social media? ›

You can change the privacy settings on your social media platforms to help you control who sees your information, photos and videos. Think carefully and what you share with whom. It may seem obvious but don't share personal information like your address, phone number or bank details.

How youth can protect their privacy on social media? ›

Never share passwords

This might be more difficult when they get older, Hartstein said. Young people should never allow people they don't know personally into their social media networks, and should never share passwords with anyone. Encourage them to think carefully before posting anything online.

How do I block 18 content on Instagram? ›

Instagram app for Android and iPhone
  1. Tap or your profile picture in the bottom right to go to your profile.
  2. Tap in the top right, then tap Settings.
  3. Tap Account, then tap Sensitive content control.
  4. Tap next to Less to see less content you may find upsetting. ...
  5. Tap Confirm.

What age should kids have social media? ›

Due to the various dangers and effects of social media, it is necessary that parents restrict their children from using social media until at least 13 years old. At that age, they may introduce those apps to their children so the process becomes more gradual and easier to monitor.

Should I put pictures of my child on Instagram? ›

Sharing Puts Your Child at Risk for Digital Kidnapping

Digital kidnapping is a type of identity theft. It occurs when someone takes photos of a child from social media and repurposes them with new names and identities, often claiming the child as their own.

Should parents have control of their children's social media? ›

By having control of children's phones they can ensure the safety of children, monitor the things they say, things they receive, doing, sharing on social media. Parents should have social media control tools because of cyberbullying, online predators, and the children's time management.

Why social media usage should be controlled? ›

Studies show that people who spend a significant amount of time on social media experience increased anxiety and decreased self-esteem. Watching everybody else's milestones and achievements fly through your feed doesn't make you happy for your pals, it makes you unhappy about your own (seeming) lack of accomplishment.

Should parents control their teenagers use of social media? ›

The posting of pictures online should be monitored to control for sexting and other explicit sexual behaviors. Words and behaviors online that evoke harsh responses or unflattering images can damage self-esteem. The main reasons for not monitoring your teens social media activities are privacy and trust.

How can I monitor my child's phone without them knowing? ›

However, the law permits tracking a child's phone without them knowing by installing a parental control app, such as mSpy, on their device. However, parents can monitor only their underage kids. mSpy monitoring app allows you to watch your kid's activity online secretly.

How can I see my kids deleted text messages? ›

Parents can also use iTunes Backup to see their kids deleted messages. You can install an extractor app from the app store and Install the app on your kid's phone. This allows you to recover the deleted iMessages of your kid's phone.

How can I see my son's internet history? ›

Check Your Child's Web History
  1. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, and select Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, in the Temporary Internet Files OR Browsing History area, click the Settings button.
  3. In the Temporary Internet files folder area, click the View Files button.

What age should you stop checking your child's phone? ›

The majority, 31%, say age 18 for sure. But there's also 17% who say they'll stop at age 16. There's no blanket perfect age, however. In some homes, you can trust an 8-year-old; in others you may still want or need parental controls active for much longer.

Can I see my child's Instagram messages? ›

Even if supervision is set up, you still own your Instagram account. Your parent won't be able to see your messages, change your password or delete your account. Your parent won't be able to see your posts, likes or comments unless you allow them to follow you or your account is public.

How can I control my kids mobile? ›

Set up parental controls
  1. Open the Google Play app .
  2. At the top right, tap the profile icon.
  3. Tap Settings Family. Parental controls.
  4. Turn on Parental controls.
  5. To protect parental controls, create a PIN your child doesn't know.
  6. Select the type of content you want to filter.
  7. Choose how to filter or restrict access.

Should I look through my 13 year olds phone? ›

Overall, parents should be able to trust their kid enough to not look through their phones. This will also maintain trust and a healthy relationship. If there is heavy evidence that there is something that should be investigated, then it's okay, but if not… teens should have some privacy.

Should parents check their kids phones? ›

Responsible parents must protect kids from potential harm. Monitoring your children's phone activities and messages is a significant part of that responsibility. The fact is most of the time children spend using phones will be online, where anyone can publish anything.

Should you read your child's texts? ›

“It's just a tool. Reading your child's text messages is not that different than eavesdropping or reading their diary.” She advises parents to stay in their lane by steering clear of needless snooping, whether trying to find out what your kids are saying or who they are hanging out with.

How can we avoid negative effects of media? ›

  1. 7 Ways To Stop The Negative Effects of Social Media:
  2. Take a Break. ...
  3. Create an Intention or Purpose. ...
  4. Connect with Those That Lift You Up, NOT Put You Down. ...
  5. Change Your Perspective. ...
  6. Keep Your Content Positive. ...
  7. Contribute to the Cause. ...
  8. Remember That You Are In-Charge.
20 Jul 2020

How can we prevent media influence? ›

Five things you can do to reduce the effects of media on your life
  1. Consciously choose which media you will consume: ...
  2. Form your own opinion about issues you care about: ...
  3. Chew on it: ...
  4. Connect meaningfully with other humans: ...
  5. Avoid “ain't it awful” at all costs:
26 Feb 2016

How do I deal with negative social media comments? ›

How to Deal with Negative Comments on Social Media
  1. Respond to the comment as soon as possible.
  2. Be apologetic.
  3. Discuss the problem privately.
  4. Appreciate their feedback.
  5. Ask them how you can help, and help.
  6. Don't delete their comments.
  7. Pick your battles.
  8. Don't delete their comments.
13 May 2022

How can we successfully handle media? ›

The 5 Processes Needed for Successful Media Management
  1. Identify the Right Channels. ...
  2. Provide Value. ...
  3. Interact with Your Audience. ...
  4. Utilize Your Team's Talents. ...
  5. Don't Be Afraid to Experiment.
1 Sept 2015

How can we avoid toxic social media? ›

Curate your newsfeed. Follow more people and accounts who post positive content and delete or block the negative Nancys and Nigels. If you want to avoid offending people then you can unfollow without unfriending on Facebook, and on Instagram, there's the mute function.

Why are children so addicted to social media? ›


Adolescents are at the highest risk of falling into addiction, experts say, for three basic reasons: their tendency to be impulsive, their need for a widespread and growing social influence, and finally, the necessity for them to reaffirm their group identity.

How can parents handle their child's cell phone and social media use appropriately? ›

Whatever their age, sit down together with your child and agree upon some rules about what they do online and for how long. For example, you can set timers and set screen time limits for apps or devices. You can also set up parental controls to limit their access to harmful or inappropriate content online.

How do you teach social media responsibility? ›

Here are some tips that we hope you find helpful in enforcing responsible internet and social media use to your kids.
  1. Set solid ground rules.
  2. Educate them about information privacy.
  3. Adult supervision should be non-negotiable.
  4. Things live forever on the internet.
  5. Be a good role model to your children.
18 Jan 2018

How you control your kid in social media Behaviour? ›

Here are six key tips to get the conversation going:
  1. Set the tone. Begin your talk in a calm, neutral way. ...
  2. Ask before you tell. Ask your child what apps or platforms they're using. ...
  3. Lead by example. ...
  4. Stay calm. ...
  5. Talk about permanence and privacy. ...
  6. Describe positive and negative online behavior.
4 Mar 2021

How can students avoid social media? ›

6 ways to avoid social media distraction while learning online
  1. Close any social media sites & apps. ...
  2. Limit your smartphone usage.
  3. Turn off your phone or leave it out of reach.
  4. Create a social media schedule.
  5. Research where your time is going and use reminders.
  6. Replace your time on social media with other activities.

What are the effects of social media on children? ›

In addition to problematic digital behaviors, there may be changes in children's daily behavior at home like: Increased irritability. Increased anxiety. Lack of self-esteem.

How do you protect your own and others privacy? ›

Tips to protect your privacy
  1. Know your rights. ...
  2. Read privacy policies and collection notices. ...
  3. Always ask why, how and who. ...
  4. Check your credit report. ...
  5. Protect yourself online. ...
  6. Be aware of your mobile security. ...
  7. Use security software. ...
  8. Be careful what you share on social media.

How can I lock my child on Facebook? ›

To make sure your child is protected, go to the settings icon on their Facebook profile page – the round icon with three dots in the middle – and choosing Facebook Privacy from the next menu. From here you can conduct what the platform calls a 'Privacy Check-up'.

What social media platforms have parental controls? ›

It also lets you turn off direct messages remotely, so your kid won't be able to turn them back on.
  • Instagram. Instagram (available for Android and iOS) has gradually added more in way of parental controls and has a comprehensive guide for parents that you can find online. ...
  • Snapchat. ...
  • Facebook.
10 Aug 2022

How do u put parental controls on Snapchat? ›

How to Set Up “Parental Controls” On Snapchat
  1. Step 1: Change Contact Settings to ``My Friends`` ...
  2. Step 2: Disable “Show Me in Quick Add. ...
  3. Step 3: Enable Ghost Mode to Prevent Location Sharing. ...
  4. Step 4: Prevent Users From Searching by Phone Number. ...
  5. Step 5: Teach Your Child to Report Inappropriate Behavior.

How do you set up parental controls on Facebook? ›

To turn on Facebook Parental controls, you need to access your child's account first. Once you are on the account's setting page, click Settings and Privacy → Privacy check-up. With the Privacy Checkup tool, it is easy to set up parental controls for your kid's account in only 3 steps.

Can you put restrictions on Facebook? ›

When you add someone to your Restricted list, you'll still be friends with them on Facebook, but they'll only be able to see your public information (example: your posts and profile info you choose to make public) and posts you tag them in.

Can you put parental controls on Tiktok? ›

Tap on their profile picture or icon, and navigate to Settings > Family, where you can turn Parental controls on or off, set a security PIN, and adjust the settings. Turn Parental Controls On and create a PIN that a user must enter to change these controls.

Does Facebook have child protection? ›

Our Approach to Online Child Protection

Across our family of apps, we take a comprehensive approach to child safety. This includes zero-tolerance policies prohibiting abuse like child exploitation; cutting-edge technology to prevent, detect, remove and report policy violations; and resources and support.

What is the best app for monitoring your child's phone? ›

The 7 Best Parental Control Apps of 2022
  • Best Overall: Qustodio.
  • Best for Budget: Google Family Link.
  • Best for Older Kids: Bark.
  • Best for Younger Kids: Canopy.
  • Best for Real-Time Monitoring: NetNanny.
  • Best for Time Monitoring: FamilyTime.
  • Best for Location Tracking: Life360.
4 days ago

How can I see everything on my child's phone free? ›

[2022] Top 10 Free Parental Control Apps for Android
  1. AirDroid Parental Control App.
  2. Qustodio Parental Control Software.
  3. Norton Family Parental Monitoring App.
  4. Google Family Link.
  5. KidLogger Phone Monitoring App for Parents.
  6. IvyMobile AppLock Cell Phone Parental Controls.
  7. Kaspersky Safe Kids Cell Phone Monitoring for Parents.

Can a parent monitor Snapchat? ›

Snapchat launches parental controls to help manage teens' social media use Snapchat's Family Center lets parents see whom their teen is contacting, but not their messages. Parents can also confidentially report accounts that concern them, without their child's knowledge.

Is there an app that sends my kids texts to my phone? ›

AirDroid parental control app runs on Android. Since Android doesn't have the same text forwarding feature as iPhone, you can take advantage of the app to get your child's text messages sent to your phone.

Can I monitor my child's Snapchat for free? ›


It is a free app, which will allow you to monitor your child's activity on Snapchat and other major social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp. To control the usage of the mobile phone by your kid, you can opt for Flexispy without any hesitation.

What is restricted mode on Facebook? ›

The Facebook Restricted mode is a feature where a user can restrict a person on their friends' list to view their contents on this social media.

How do I block explicit videos on Facebook? ›

You'll find a similar setting in Facebook's mobile app. Pull up its Settings, and then scroll down until you see the “Media and contacts” section. Tap on “Videos and Photos” to find the option for turning autoplay off. Lastly, report any offensive content that is posted on your wall.

How do I stop unwanted videos on Facebook? ›

While scrolling through your newsfeed, there are some videos you just do not want to see, but that play without warning anyway. To stop random videos from auto-playing in your Facebook News Feed, click the drop-down arrow button in the top right-hand corner, choose Settings and Privacy, then Setting again.


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