In today‘s digital age, Instagram has become a central part of most people‘s lives. With over 2 billion monthly active users, it‘s one of the most popular social media networks out there. This visual platform lets you give friends and family an inside look at your life through photos, videos, Stories, and direct messaging.
However, as a parent or partner, you may sometimes need to ethically monitor someone‘s Instagram activity and usage. With limited visibility on Instagram, it can be hard to keep tabs on a child or loved one‘s activity and who they are engaging with.
In this in-depth guide, I‘ll provide parents, partners, and concerned individuals with expert techniques to monitor Instagram activity in 2023. As an experienced online privacy professional and tech enthusiast, I‘ll explore the latest methods and apps that allow ethical monitoring of Instagram accounts.
Why You Might Need to Monitor Someone‘s Instagram Activity
There are a few legitimate reasons why you may need to responsibly view someone‘s Instagram activity:
- Parental supervision – Parents may want to occasionally check in on their child‘s Instagram activity to ensure they are being safe online and not engaging with inappropriate accounts. Monitoring can be part of healthy parental oversight.
- Relationship trust issues – If a partner is displaying suspicious behavior, a spouse may discreetly monitor their Instagram activity to determine if trust is being broken or confirm loyalty.
- Safety of loved ones – Checking Instagram can help identify if a loved one is exhibiting signs of depression, suicidal tendencies, or connecting with dangerous people that need intervention.
- Employer oversight – In some cases, employers will monitor employees social media usage to ensure proper online conduct and protect the company‘s reputation.
Monitoring Instagram activity can provide insight into issues like cyberbullying, predators, mental health, infidelity, and more. Most experts recommend transparent conversations around security and boundaries before resorting to secret monitoring.
Methods to Monitor Someone‘s Instagram Activity and Usage
There are now more options than ever to gain visibility into someone‘s Instagram activity – both through Instagram itself and third-party apps. Here are some of the most effective approaches:
Using Instagram‘s Built-In Insights
Instagram offers some basic analytics that allow you to see limited activity data on a user‘s profile:
- Followers/Following – View the list of accounts that the user follows or has followed them. This shows who they frequently interact with.
- Likes – See all the posts and videos that the user has liked recently. Gives a sampling of the types of content they enjoy.
- Comments – Check comments they have left on others‘ posts. Shows their conversations and engagement.
- Story Views – If you have a business profile, you can see story views to understand your audience. But for regular users, you cannot see who viewed your story.
- Activity Status – See when a user was last active on Instagram if you have existing message threads with them.
While very basic, utilizing Instagram‘s built-in analytics provides some surface level visibility into an accounts activity and relationships on the platforms. Just keep in mind it is limited without deeper third-party tools.
Use Third-Party Instagram Monitoring Apps
For more comprehensive monitoring, third-party Instagram spy apps provide fuller oversight of accounts:
One of the most powerful Instagram monitoring apps is EyeZy. Once installed on someone‘s device, EyeZy lets you:
- View private messages and stories
- See posts they liked and commented on
- Access search and browsing history
- Track location in real-time
- Monitor calls and surroundings
- Works for Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and more
I recommend EyeZy as the best Instagram tracking app because it is completely hidden and untraceable on the target device. You get 24/7 access to their Instagram activity logs without them ever finding out.
EyeZy also offers features like keylogging, call interception, and camera access for comprehensive monitoring. Plans start at just $11 per week, making it affordable for most people who need to ethically monitor Instagram usage.
Designed just for parents, Bark helps monitor kids‘ social media and texts for potential safety issues.
Bark uses AI to analyze Instagram activity and sends alerts about concerns like:
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Online predators
- Drug use
- Violence and aggression
I suggest Bark for parents who want extra peace of mind about their children‘s safety on Instagram without being overly invasive. It costs $9 per month for basic monitoring.
mSpy is a longstanding leader in Instagram monitoring for iOS and Android devices. With mSpy, you can:
- View private messages, stories, posts and profile info
- Get activity alerts and reports
- Track real-time location
- Set time limits for Instagram use
- Monitor hashtags and captions
At $30-200 per month based on features, mSpy provides detailed Instagram monitoring without the huge price tag. It lacks some of the more advanced features of EyeZy but covers the basics well.
FlexiSPY sits at the highest end of Instagram spying apps. It offers robust capabilities like:
- Call interception
- Ambient listening
- Camera access
- Tracking chat messages
- Email, SMS, and social media monitoring
- Complete location history
With prices from $68-$349 monthly, FlexiSPY is the most full-featured tool for Instagram monitoring but also the most expensive. The extensive features make it popular for investigators, authorities, and those needing complete access.
Adjust Instagram‘s Security Settings
If monitoring a child‘s Instagram account, parents can tighten security settings like:
- Comment controls – Filters offensive comments on posts
- Restricted mode – Limits inappropriate content visibility
- Screen time limits – Caps daily Instagram usage
- Disable sharing – Stops ability to share certain posts
- Account privacy – Makes account fully private
Use Instagram‘s built-in parental controls responsibly. Still allow your child some privacy but with appropriate safeguards enabled.
See Who They Follow and Interact With
Looking at who someone follows and interacts with on Instagram can provide insight even if you can‘t see full activity.
By checking their following list and likes/comments, you get an idea of which accounts they are engaging with frequently. Watch for concerning accounts like adult content, drugs, strangers, etc.
View Stories Without Being Detected
Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours unless you know how to view them undetected:
- Use a private Instagram viewer app like EyeZy to secretly view stories
- Temporarily turn off internet/wifi on your device, then watch their stories offline
- Make a secondary "fake" account to follow them from to privately view stories
With the right stealth tactics, you can monitor Instagram Stories they post without them ever knowing.
Check Screen Time and Usage
On iOS devices, you can check Screen Time to see daily Instagram usage and monitor potential overuse or obsessive behaviors.
Android also has Digital Wellbeing settings to view daily usage data. Look for sudden spikes in Instagram screen time.
Use Multiple Methods for Layered Monitoring
No single method provides full visibility. Using a combination of tools gives you layered monitoring:
- Use EyeZy spy app for private data like messages and location
- Check public activity using Instagram‘s analytics
- Enable parental controls and security settings
- See who they follow/interact with for additional context
- Note any usage changes with Screen Time tracking
Adopting a multi-faceted approach ensures comprehensive monitoring with checks and balances in place.
Warning Signs to Watch Out For on Instagram
When monitoring Instagram, here are some potential warning signs to look out for:
Aggressive or Depressed Content
- Threats of violence in captions or comments
- Bullying or hostile language
- Depression and suicidal ideation
- Vague-posting melancholy thoughts
Drug and Alcohol Use
- Referencing drug or alcohol use in posts
- Media showing drug/alcohol consumption
- Following pro-substance abuse accounts
- Posts from parties/events with rampant drug use
Sexualized Content and Strangers
- Posting sexually suggestive photos
- Following adult accounts or strangers
- Sexual comments and messaging
- Sending revealing photos to unknown people
- Turning off location tagging to hide whereabouts
- Quickly switching screens when you walk by
- Deceptive stories that don‘t match actual activities
- General secretiveness around their account
Time and Usage Changes
- Rapidly increasing Instagram screen time
- Usage late into the night
- Constant checking and obsession with Instagram
- Dramatic changes in other activities replaced by Instagram
Look out for not just clearly inappropriate content but also usage patterns, secretiveness, and dishonesty that may arise.
Factors to Consider When Monitoring Instagram Ethics and Legality
While Instagram monitoring tools make spying easier, you must still carefully consider privacy, ethics, and legality.
- Parents have more legal rights to monitor minor children, especially under 13 years old. The approach should be different for spouses in relationships.
- Some workplaces may reserve the right to monitor employees social media conduct depending on policies.
- Know if you are legally guardian or have consent before monitoring extensively.
- Certain states and countries have laws prohibiting monitoring digital communications without the user‘s permission.
- It‘s illegal in California and Tennessee to monitor a spouse‘s devices without consent, for example.
- Look up specific laws based on your jurisdiction before tracking Instagram accounts.
- Tell the person you intend to supervise their Instagram activity and explain your reasons for concern. Transparency prevents destroying trust.
- For younger kids, discuss Instagram safety without needing to hide monitoring.
- Monitoring in secret should not be taken lightly and requires discretion.
- Consider if monitoring Instagram usage is absolutely necessary or if transparent conversations could be effective.
- Don‘t overstep if more open communication and guidance would prevent issues.
- Ensure you have a legitimate reason to warrant covert monitoring.
- Avoid overly invasive spying tactics like digitally ‘stalking‘ a partner.
- The level of monitoring should match the severity of concerns.
- For casual concerns, only use ethics public methods vs. full spyware.
Find the right balance for your specific relationship and situation. Not all monitoring methods work for every scenario or relationship dynamic.
Expert Tips for Smooth and Effective Instagram Monitoring
Based on my extensive experience as an online privacy expert helping parents and partners monitor social media activity, here are some pro tips:
Use a Separate "Monitoring" Account
Create a dummy Instagram account solely to follow the person you are monitoring. This allows you to view public content they post without it showing up in your own feed or activity log.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds extra login security, requiring a code from your phone to access the account. This prevents the monitored person from logging in to your dummy account and seeing you are following them.
Browse in Incognito Mode
Use incognito or private browsing when possible while monitoring Instagram activity. This prevents any account info, search history, or activity from being retained locally on the device.
Restrict Commenting and Interactions
Avoid liking, commenting on, or directly interacting with posts from your monitoring account. This would reveal your activities and show you are following them.
Use Mixed Physical and Digital Checks
Don‘t just rely on Instagram monitoring apps. Also take note if their phone usage habits change or they become secretive around their device.
Focus on Patterns Rather Than Isolated Incidents
Don‘t overreact to a single questionable post or temporary change in behavior. Look at their full scope of activities for patterns of issues that require action.
Define Non-Negotiable Actions
Set clear rules around prohibited Instagram behaviors like cyberbullying, adult content, illegal activities that would prompt intervention if detected during monitoring.
Limit Monitoring App Permissions
Only allow essential permissions for Instagram monitoring apps to reduce privacy invasion. For example, disable microphone access which is unnecessary.
Using smart precautions allows smoother monitoring without getting caught or overstepping boundaries.
Instagram Monitoring Statistics and Trends
- 72% of teenagers feel pressure to only share content on Instagram that makes them look good. [Source: The Wall Street Journal]
- The majority of parents (58%) report being concerned about their child‘s digital social interactions according to surveys. [Source: Influence Central]
- 24% of millennials admit to digitally stalking an ex online. 12.6% have used third-party tools to monitor an ex‘s activities. [Source: Intelius]
- 85% of marital affairs start online primarily through social media messaging. [Source: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers]
- 61% of social media users believe it is impossible to completely delete or remove personal details posted online. [Source: Statista]
These statistics demonstrate the permanent nature of social media activity and the prevalence of monitoring behaviors. While Instagram engagement can be positive, it requires a watchful eye in many instances.
Final Thoughts on Instagram Monitoring in 2023
Instagram monitoring provides necessary insight but should still be handled with care. Focus on open communication and protection rather than control.
Parents need not be afraid of social media but rather take proactive steps to guide children, even into adulthood. Tools like Bark offer monitoring without total intrusion.
For partners, discreet occasional checks can validate loyalty, but constant surveillance decays trust. Prioritize transparency when possible.
Overall, ensure monitoring is proportional, thoughtful, and aligns with your ethics. With the right mindset and tools, Instagram insight can keep loved ones safe in 2023 and beyond.