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Parental Controls for Social Media (Updated March 2024)

Updated: Feb 28

What are parental controls?

Simply put, they are optional settings in an app or game that allows parent/guardian/adult to restrict, monitor or supervise.

Should parents use them?

Short answer, yes. There is a big BUT though! They should never be seen as a substitute for the most effective strategy of all to keep our kids safe and empower them: mentor parenting.

  • setting boundaries in line with what they need (not what they want!)

  • supervision (devices out of bedrooms!)

  • open, curious and ongoing conversations

The top 4 social media apps for tweens & teens in 2023 (based on our own Inform & Empower student surveys and anecdotally):

  • Snapchat

  • Instagram

  • Tik Tok

  • Discord

With this in mind, we thought we'd do the hard work for you and investigate exactly what the parental controls do (& don't do) within these 4 main platforms:


  1. Tik Tok Restricted mode has been extensively tested by the author and found to be largely ineffective. Highly sexualised and offensive language (among other adult themes) is still able to be accessed.

  2. Tik Tok restrictions can be disabled by the teen but there is a 48 hours delay before they are removed (like time delay on a bank vault!).

Help guides to set up and manage parental controls:

Additional Parental Controls

In addition to each app's own parental controls, we highly recommend making the most of the mobile device level parental controls provided by Apple and Android:

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