social media privacy settings

How to Manage Privacy Settings on Social Media

manage teen privacy settings

Every social network has its own privacy settings. This guide will help you manage the settings on several of the most popular sites that your teen may be using.


Facebook is notorious for changing its privacy settings and making it difficult to keep your information from being used by third-parties.

  1. Your Privacy Settings can be accessed by clicking the down-facing arrow in the right portion of any screen.
  2. When you click the arrow, a drop-down menu will appear. Click “Settings.”
  3. Select “Privacy” from the list of options that appear in the left toolbar.

manage teen privacy settings

Go through each of the options and choose the option you’re most comfortable with For teens, the best default settings are:

  • Who can see my stuff? Friends
  • Who can send you friend requests? Friends of Friends
  • Whose message do I wanted filtered into my inbox? Strict filtering
  • Who can look you up using the email address you provided? Friends
  • Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?  Friends
  • Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline? No

You can review these settings ensure only their friends — people they are most likely to know in real life, rather than strangers — see their information. You can review your most common settings easily by pressing the “Privacy” button in the top nav bar.

manage teen privacy settings

Other settings to look out for for maximum security include…

  • Review Tags: In Settings, go to Timeline and Tagging. Here, you can manage how other people interact with your teen. You can limit the people who can post on their timeline, and enable the “review” setting which allows your teen to know who and when people tag them, and if they want it to appear on their timeline.
  • Activity Log. It’s possible things you or your teen has hidden on your teen’s timeline might still be visible to people who search for your teen through Facebook’s Graph Search or other search engines. To ensure posts are hidden entirely, you have to manually hide it in the Activity Log, which can be found above “Settings” on Facebook’s main drop-down menu.
    manage teen privacy settings
  • Search History. Facebook stores your search history, which they use to tailor your News Feed and advertising displays. To keep this private, go into the Activity Log and expand the options available in the left side-bar. Click on “Search”, and you’ll be able to manually remove the items your teen has searched for. Alternatively, this is a good way to discover what your teen has been searching for, if you are worried they are looking for inappropriate things on Facebook.


Instagram is a much more streamlined app, making managing privacy much easier. To access privacy settings, you have to use the Instagram app on a smartphone. The two ways to protect your teen’s photos are…

  • Make the Account Private. In the top right corner of the profile page, touch the gear icon to access your Instagram account settings. Scroll down the menu until you see Private Account. When your teen’s account is private, only followers they personally approve can view their account, including photos, videos, and personal information.
    manage teen privacy settings
  • Turn Off Location Map. Any time you tag a location in your photo, Instagram automatically adds that photo to your “Photo Map” — and automatically enables “Add to Photo Map” for every photo taken thereafter. Predators can use this information to stalk teens by learning the location of their school and favorite hangouts— even their home address. Make sure your teen knows to deselect “Add to Photo Map” every time they add a photo.

While these two settings are fairly simple, one of the popular features of Instagram is how easy it is to share across multiple networks. If your teen’s Instagram profile is private, and they share a photo to Twitter, which is a public account, then anyone will still be able to see that picture. And speaking of Twitter…


To protect your teen’s Tweets, it’s best to make their account completely private. This can be done by…

  • Clicking on the “Profile and settings” button, which is a small version of your teen’s profile picture between the “Search Twitter” bar and “Tweet” button.
    manage teen privacy settings
  • In the left sidebar, select “Security and privacy.” This is where you will see all of the privacy setting options.
    manage teen privacy settings

You can make all Tweets private and and set how people can discover your teen. Use whatever settings you feel appropriate for your teen, although we recommend…

  • Setting photo tags to either ‘Do not allow anyone to tag me in photos’ or ‘Only allow people I follow to tag me in photos’
  • Enabling Tweet Privacy
  • Disabling Tweet Location
  • Disabling Discoverability
  • Disabling Promoted Content
  • Disabling Direct Messages


Snapchat is another app-based social platform. To access their privacy settings…

  • When in photo-taking mode, click the small Ghost icon in the top center of the screen.
  • Then click the
  • Click the gear icon (top right) to open the Settings page.
  • There are two settings that affect privacy: Who Can Send Me Snaps and Who Can View My Story. Both of these should be set to “My Friends” instead of “Everyone.” This will prevent teens
    manage teen privacy settings
  • Under “View My Story,” you can further protect your teen’s privacy by choosing the “Custom” setting, which will allow you to choose specific people even within the “Friend” group who can view your teen’s Snaps.

Teens may occasionally get sent Snaps by strangers, and this will stop those people from having full access to your teen’s photo history from the moment that Snap is accepted.


Unlike most social networks, Kik has no real privacy settings. It’s important to be particularly vigilant with this social network, as it’s abnormally easy for teens to be harassed or shown unwanted material. Within Kik’s settings, however, there are some measures you can take to keep your teen safe…

  • Ignore New People. In Settings, under “Notifications,” you can enable “Ignore New People” which will ensure that strangers can’t contact your teen. Messages from new people are moved into a separate “Ignored” conversation list, where they can be deled manually.
    manage teen privacy settings
  • Block Unwanted Contacts. Under “Privacy,” you have to option to block contacts. When a contact is blocked, all messages are hidden and the conversation is deleted, all without the blocked part being notified.

The most important thing you can do to maintain privacy on Kik, however, is to talk with your teen about the importance of keeping their username private, so only people they give it to can send messages to them. They also need to be aware that Kik never turns off, not even when the app has been closed.


Our final platform is WhatsApp. WhatsApp’s default privacy settings allows any user to see your teen’s profile picture, status, last seen, and read receipts. In order to change this…

  • In the app’s bottom nav bar, click “Settings.”
  • Click on “Account”, and then “Privacy.”
  • Here you can change Last Seen, Profile Photo, and Status. These should be changed from the default “Everyone” to “My Contacts.” You can also block unwanted contacts.
    manage teen privacy settings
  • On an Android phone, you can also enable or disable Read Receipts, which notifies you when your message has been read. Teens may want to know this, but it can also cause stress or even obsessive behavior. (On iPhone, disabling Read Receipts is not an available feature.)

Note: Privacy settings and options can change over time as social networks make updates to their systems. Be sure to continually check your privacy settings to make sure updates have not affected your personal settings, OR that your teen has not modified them without your knowledge.

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