A Parent’s Guide to Pinterest Parental Controls

By Andrea Nelson
March 28, 2024
close up of pinterest grid

In a surprising resurgence of the platform’s cool factor, Pinterest use is up among teens. Gen Zers are using the website as a canvas for self-expression and exploration. Read on to learn more about how to keep your child safe on the site with Pinterest parental controls.  

What is Pinterest? 

Pinterest describes itself as “a visual discovery engine for finding ideas.” Users save “Pins” of images or videos to virtual boards. They can record live videos and take photos right in the app, or save images found elsewhere on the internet as Pins. 

How your child might use Pinterest

Many kids come to Pinterest to find inspiration and share ideas around a hobby or interest. Teens are more likely than their adult counterparts to create Pins of things they’ve made and their outfits. Kids also use it to connect with others around common interests, such as books, beauty, or fashion.

How your child might interact with others on Pinterest

Pinterest allows users to interact with each other through comments, direct messages, and shared boards. Although Pinterest may seem relatively tame in comparison to TikTok or Snapchat, parents should take the same precautions as they do with other social media sites.   

Here are some ways people might interact with your child on Pinterest: 

  • Group boards: Boards can be secret or public. Secret boards become group boards when users are invited as collaborators. 
  • Followers: Anyone can follow a public account. Accounts set to private aren’t discoverable, but users can invite people to follow their private account. 
  • Reactions and comments: Users can react to and comment on Pins. 
  • Direct message: Users can exchange private messages with one another. 
  • Mentions: People can use the @ symbol to mention other users in Pin comments and descriptions, which notifies the person mentioned.
  • Sharing: Pins can be shared on other social media networks, sent to users on Pinterest, and shared via emailed to people not on Pinterest.

Risk of letting your child using Pinterest 

Just like any social media site, there are risks parents need to be aware of. In 2023, NBC News reported that adult men were using Pinterest to create boards with pictures of young girls and teenagers. The platform responded by rolling out a suite of new Pinterest parental controls, which we’ll discuss below.

Aside from online predators, Pinterest can also expose your child to content that promotes negative body image, negative self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts. Like other websites, Pinterest uses an algorithm to recommend content based on what your child searches and the pins they click. Research shows that excessive social media use can make kids feel bad about themselves, so it’s important to talk to your child about the content on their feed and limit the time they spend on social media — including Pinterest.

Exposure to inappropriate content is also a risk on Pinterest. Pins can lead kids to websites with explicit content, misinformation, and just plain spam, solely because they clicked a pin that caught their attention. 

Benefits of letting your child using Pinterest 

There are also plenty of positive reasons to let your child use Pinterest, with guardrails. 

For example, Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration, creative expression, and connection because users have the ability to dive deeper into their interests. Plus, Pinterest is full of tutorials that can help kids learn new skills, like cooking and coding. 

Pinterest can even foster a boost of positivity. Recent research from Pinterest and University of California, Berkeley, found that daily interaction with inspiring content on Pinterest helped buffer students against things like burnout and stress. 

How to use Pinterest parental controls

The good news is that Pinterest parental controls are fairly robust. The company recently took steps to protect minors on their site, including age verification, automatically setting accounts to private for users under 16, and additional reporting options. The minimum age for Pinterest users is 13.

There are also extra steps you can take to keep your child safe on Pinterest: 

  • Verify their age: Confirm they entered their age correctly when they signed up for an account to ensure the teen safety settings are in place. 
  • Monitor their account: Follow your child on Pinterest and sit down with them periodically to view their feed together.  
  • Set up a parental passcode: This code locks certain privacy, data, and social permissions settings. 
  • Help them set their privacy: Check that their account is set to private and show them how to adjust their settings to control who can view their content. They can also edit their profile to control what information is displayed.  
  • Encourage them to use secret boards: Secret boards can only be viewed by your child and people they invite. They should only invite people they know in real life.
  • Talk with them about safety: Encourage your child to only share content with people they know and trust. Discuss the risks of allowing people they don’t know access to their boards and remind them to be cautious about what they share. 
  • Establish open communication: Be upfront about the risks your child may face on Pinterest. Make it clear they can come to you if they have a problem, and you’ll help them through it. 
  • Report and block: Show your child how to report inappropriate Pins, users, and messages. Make sure they also know they can block users who make them uncomfortable.

The bottom line

While Pinterest can be a positive creative outlet for kids, it’s not without risk. Parents should educate themselves about the potential dangers and take steps to keep their child safe on the site. 

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