How to Block Inappropriate Content on Instagram in 2024

Shauli Zacks
Last Updated by Shauli Zacks on February 03, 2024

Instagram offers content blocking and screen time limits to help manage your child’s online activity. While these features can be helpful, they all come with a significant limitation: Instagram’s tools can be easily turned off by your child, without your knowledge.

I tried different methods for blocking inappropriate Instagram content. Unfortunately, third-party apps don’t have the ability to block posts, and you can’t always personally monitor your child when they’re on Instagram. However, I found some parental control apps that can monitor what my child sees and who they interact with on Instagram.

After testing more than 30 parental control apps, Bark proved to be the best option for Instagram. It sends real-time alerts if it detects inappropriate content on posts, searches, or DMs, and it gives me the option to limit when my children can use the Instagram app.

Try Bark free for 7 days!

Quick Guide: How to Block Inappropriate Content on Instagram

  1. Open Account Settings: Log into your child’s Instagram account, tap on their profile picture in the top right corner, and select Settings.
  2. Activate Sensitive Content Filter: Set up privacy options to block accounts, restrict content, control message requests, and activate the Sensitivity filter.
  3. Install a Parental Control App: For added supervision, consider using a reliable parental control app. With this, you’ll be able to monitor your child’s activity on Instagram. Try Bark for free for 7 days.

First Steps: How to Set Instagram Privacy Settings to Block Inappropriate Content

Important: Using the Instagram setting below will only prevent inappropriate content on Instagram. To keep your kids safe online, you still need to block inappropriate content and apps, and monitor their online activities.

The only way to really protect your children from inappropriate content online is to install a premium parental control app on their phones, tablets, and computers. It will allow you to set comprehensive web filters, manage app use, and view detailed activity reports.

Instagram has decent content filters and moderation tools to ensure a safe and positive online environment for its users. Here are the main settings you can change to block inappropriate content on Instagram. These can all be found by opening your child’s profile and tapping on the “Settings and Privacy” option.

Block Sensitive Content

Instagram gives parents the option to limit sensitive content that appears on their child’s reels, feeds, hashtags, and explore sections. Content that is deemed sensitive can include violence, sexually explicit images, and posts that promote using things like cigarettes, vapes, adult products, and pharmaceutical drugs.
You can choose to adjust the filter settings based on how much sensitive content you want to expose your child to.

Graphic showing Instagram's sensitivity filter features

You can easily adjust your child’s setting to block sensitive content

Create a Custom List of Words and Phrases to Block

The Hidden Words feature allows you to create a custom list of words and phrases that you want Instagram to block. It can also remove comments on your child’s posts, including hiding or filtering comments with offensive words or phrases. This gives me added peace of mind about bullying, trolling, and offensive ads.

Graphic showing Instagram's Hidden Words settings

Create a list of words and phrases that won’t appear on your child’s Instagram account

To create your list, go to the Settings and Privacy section, tap on Hidden Words, and scroll down to the Manual Filter. Then simply add specific words or phrases to the list that you want Instagram to block or remove from comments.

Make Your Child’s Account Private to Limit Who They Can Interact With

By making your child’s account private, you ensure that only approved followers can see their posts and content. This drastically reduces the chance of strangers accessing their profile and helps control who can view and interact with their content. Go to the Settings and Privacy area and Toggle on Private Account to make it accessible to followers only.

Hide Comments

Use the Hide Comments feature to prevent your child from being exposed to trolls or reading offensive comments from other users.

Graphic showing Instagram's Comment settings.

Prevent trolling and cyberbullying by limiting who can comment on your child’s account

You can customize who you want to block from commenting or who you will allow to leave comments.

Warning! Keep in mind that these features are not foolproof, and some inappropriate content may still appear occasionally. It’s essential to stay vigilant and continue to report any content that violates Instagram’s community guidelines to help create a safer and more positive online experience for your children and all users.

Why You Still Need a Premium Parental Control App for Instagram

While Instagram offers some privacy settings to block contacts and set up filters for specific words, it’s not enough to fully protect children from inappropriate content. The problem is that your child can easily change these settings or even turn off supervision, giving them access to content you might not approve of.

In theory, it’s great that Instagram has screen time limits, but the reality is that these are self-imposed rules set by the device-holder. Your child can switch them off or take more time if they want. This lack of control worries me as a parent, which is why I turned to a premium parental control app.

The main advantage of using a parental control app is that it keeps you updated on your child’s Instagram activity in real-time. You can monitor their interactions with others and receive alerts if they come across inappropriate content. This reassures me that I’m aware of what my child is exposed to online, and I can act quickly if they see negative posts.

Unlike the built-in features on Instagram, the rules and restrictions set by a premium parental control app cannot easily be bypassed by my child. This means they can’t simply change the settings or turn off important safety measures.

After testing over 30 parental control apps, I found that Bark stood out as the best option. It provides detailed alerts based on my child’s posts, including images, videos, and captions. It also sends notifications about their direct messages (text only) and searches.

Additionally, Bark lets you create a daily schedule for when Instagram is available to your child, blocking it completely out-of-hours. For example, I stop my child’s access during school hours and before they go to bed. This flexibility allows me to strike a balance between letting my child enjoy social media and ensuring they stay safe and healthy.

The Best Parental Control Apps for Monitoring Instagram in 2024

1. Bark: Comprehensive Instagram Monitoring with Intelligent Alerts

  • Scan posts, including images, videos, and captions, for inappropriate content.
  • Reads DMs and searches to keep you informed of your child’s interests.
  • Daily screen time routine prevents too much time on Instagram.
  • Real-time alerts to your device when it detects inappropriate content.
  • Includes a 7-day free trial!

After extensive tests on my child’s Instagram account, Bark proved to be the best parental control app for monitoring social media platforms. Although it doesn’t directly block inappropriate content, it utilizes AI and machine learning to scan texts, images, and captions on your childrens’ Instagram timeline.

The use of AI and machine learning by Bark sets it apart from other parental control apps I’ve tried. Rather than just relying on keywords, it understands the context of the content, allowing it to effectively identify cyberbullying, potential risky behavior, and exposure to harmful material.

When Bark detects inappropriate content, DMs, or searches, it uploads a detailed alert to the parental dashboard. This includes a screenshot of an image, or the text used in comments, searches, or DMs. It sends you a category tag so you know why it was flagged, and expert advice on how to handle this type of behavior.

Bark allows you to manage your child’s Instagram screen time using the scheduling feature. You can create specific rules for different time periods, such as Free Time, Bedtime, School, and Default. Additionally, it gives you the option to block the Instagram app entirely if needed.

graphic showing Bark's screen time settings

Choose when to block your child’s access to Instagram with Bark

Bark’s capabilities are not limited to Instagram alone; it extends its monitoring and control features to other social media platforms my child uses as well. Its web filter features 19 categories, acting as a strong defense against adult and malicious content on the web.

You can try Bark free for 7 days with its trial. This allows you to experience Bark’s effectiveness firsthand without a long term commitment to see if it’s right for your family.

2. mSpy: Monitors Instagram With Screenshots and a Keylogger

  • All screenshots and keyloggers are uploaded to the parental dashboard.
  • Create keyword alerts for specific words and phrases.
  • Block the Instagram app from opening.
  • Save 30% on any subscription plan!

For parents who want to know everything their child gets up to on their phone, including Instagram activities, mSpy is the tool you need. I installed mSpy on my son’s phone, and it started taking screenshots of his Instagram when he opened the app. These pictures were uploaded to my dashboard so I can closely monitor his activity.

The keylogger tool keeps track of everything your child types on their phone, even if it’s deleted before being sent. It gives you an inside look at what your child is doing or searching for on Instagram. You can see if your child is searching for inappropriate content, or following questionable accounts.

Reassuringly, mSpy has a monitoring feature that records entire chat threads in Instagram and other top social media apps. The Social Networks feature shows the entire conversation your child is having, including third party responses.

graphic showing mSpy's conversation monitoring feature using Instagram Messenger

mSpy records incoming and outgoing messages on Instagram

Although mSpy doesn’t have a direct website filter for Instagram, it does come with a keyword tracker. You can create a list of words or phrases you feel are inappropriate and it will alert you if your child types them into Instagram or any other app.

If you think your child is acting inappropriately or spending too much time on Instagram, you can prevent it from opening with mSpy’s app blocker. This provides you with additional control over how much time your child spends on specific apps, which is especially useful since mSpy doesn’t have general screen time limits.

It’s important to point out that mSpy can monitor only one phone at a time. It’s compatible with Android and iOS phones, but you will need to jailbreak the iPhone for it to properly monitor the device.
Right now, mSpy is offering a 30% discount, making it worth considering. You can also check out the Demo Mode on the mSpy website to see how it works.

3. Qustodio: Limit Access to Instagram to Block Inappropriate Content

  • Restrict when your child can use Instagram for better supervision.
  • Comprehensive web filter with over 30 categories.
  • Comes with a 30-day free trial – no credit card needed!

During my testing, I found Qustodio to be a solid third option for parents who prioritize managing screen time on Instagram. While it may not offer content-based monitoring like Bark or mSpy’s advanced features, Qustodio is excellent at controlling screen time and blocking inappropriate web content and apps.

You can set specific time limits for each app or limit general screen time on your child’s device. This feature is useful when you want to ensure your child’s Instagram usage is balanced, giving them time for other offline activities. There is also an option to set restricted times for when your child can use their phone.

Graphic showing Qustodio's restricted times feature using Instagram

Qustodio’s screen time tools prevent your kids from spending too much time on Instagram

Qustodio can’t directly block Instagram content, but it boasts a powerful web filter with over 30 categories. The filter examines metadata, titles, text, images, and videos, to determine which sites to allow or block. This feature helps prevent your child from searching for inappropriate content on Instagram.

Detailed reports give you a clear overview of the apps your child uses and how much time they spend on each, listed in chronological order. Additionally, the report includes search and browser history, offering valuable insights into the information your children are looking for online.

Right now, Qustodio is offering a 30-day free trial, with no credit card requirement. It gives you ample time to explore the app’s features and assess its suitability for your child’s digital safety needs.

FAQs on Blocking Inappropriate Content on Instagram

How can I block inappropriate content on Instagram?

By setting the Sensitivity level to “Less,” Instagram will reduce how much sensitive content is seen on your child’s feed, reels, hashtags, and explore area. Sensitive content includes posts that feature partial and full nudity, smoking, vaping, pharmaceutical drug use, violence, offensive words and phrases, and bullying.

Can I restrict who can interact with my child’s Instagram account?

There’s an easy way to restrict access on your child’s Instagram account. Simply open the “Account and Privacy” menu and change the settings to suit your child’s needs. You can block specific accounts, restrict access to certain content, and manage message requests, ensuring a safer and more tailored social media experience.

Why do I still need a parental control app if Instagram has content filters?

While Instagram’s content filters are helpful, a parental control app like Bark offers an extra layer of supervision and protection. Bark provides comprehensive monitoring of your child’s timeline posts, screen time, and alerts you to potential issues such as cyberbullying or exposure to explicit content.

Even with Instagram Privacy Settings, You Still Need a Premium Parental Control App

Instagram comes with privacy settings to enhance online safety for yourself and for your children. The settings give you options including hiding offensive comments, activating sensitive content filters, and blocking unwanted accounts. But it’s best not to use these measures alone as content can slip through, and it’s easy for your child to turn them off.

For better protection and monitoring on Instagram, a premium parental control app like Bark is crucial. Bark lets you track your child’s Instagram activities, including posts, DMs, and searches. It uses AI and ML to detect potential risks, plus screen time controls to limit overuse. You can try Bark free for 7 days and see how it creates a safer Instagram experience for your child.

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