Limiting Exposure to Graphic Images on Social Media

Knowledge Topics
Mental Health, Teaching and Learning
Limiting Exposure to Graphic Images on Social Media

The war in Israel has extended to the social media front, and terrorists are using graphic images and videos to stoke terror and fear. Psychologists are warning school leaders and parents of how severe the impact of exposure to these feeds can be. Some schools are encouraging students to delete apps or to adjust the settings on your apps to put limits on your exposure to graphic images.

The Blue Dove Foundation recommends: Limit your exposure to social media – In a crisis, it is easy to continuously check the news for updates, or “doomscroll.” Doomscrolling can negatively affect our mental and physical health. Our bodies can respond to violent images and videos as if we were in danger, which can lead to secondary trauma responses. Be mindful of how much time you are spending watching the news, scrolling through social media, etc., and take care of yourself accordingly. Note: Social media can have unregulated comments, posts and commentary that might be untrue, triggering and offensive. Take care of yourself.

The Secure Communities Network has issued this statement in their briefing on October 11, 2023:

  • Warning on Online Depictions or Graphic Violent/Disturbing Content In light of statements by Hamas and affiliates of their intent to livestream and/or repost acts of violence—as they have already done—along with the proliferation of posts and videos of murdered civilians and hostages being captured, paraded, and held in Gaza, SCN recommends individuals to consider limiting exposure to platforms that could be used to post such content, particularly amongst vulnerable and underage populations.

Apps like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter, are often designed to play one video after another as you scroll or show you posts that are getting a lot of attention.

The following are instructions collected from the Washington Post technology section on how to set your or your children’s apps to limit exposure to content



In the iPhone app: tap on Menu – the three horizontal lines in the lower right corner of your main screen. Or in the Android app, tap on the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner of your main screen.

On the next screen, choose the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right corner. Then under Preferences → Media → and select the option that says Never Autoplay Videos.



Click on your profile image in the lower right corner of your screen. Then from the upper right corner, tap on the three horizontal lines.

Go to Settings and privacy → Suggested content → Sensitive content.

Choose “Less” and Instagram will show fewer posts that it considers potentially sensitive. If you change this setting, you may still see graphic images from accounts that you follow.



“Restricted Mode” helps limit graphic videos from the For You Page. You may also see a warning about “Sensitive content” and can choose to click to watch or skip the TikTok video.

Tap on your profile in the lower right corner. Then click on the three horizontal lines in the upper right.

Pick the option for Settings and privacy → Content preferences → Restricted Mode. You’ll need to set a passcode to turn Restricted Mode on or off.



On When a video is playing, hover your cursor to the bottom of the video. You’ll see in the middle an auto play button with an image for pause. Click that to automatically stop playing one video after another. YouTube has more instructions here.

YouTube also said that in some cases, it may apply a warning to videos before they start playing.

Another option in YouTube’s iPhone and Android app: Click on your profile in the upper right corner.

Choose Settings → Autoplay. Tap off to stop one video from automatically playing when you finish another.

Another option: Settings → General → Restricted mode. Tap on to hide videos on that particular device that YouTube considers “potentially mature.”

X, formerly known as Twitter

A tweet from the company on Monday mentioned using the "content you see" settings to choose what materials appears in your feed.

It’s easiest to change the settings from From the left side of the screen, choose “More” – the image of a circle with three horizontal dots in the middle.

Choose Settings and Support → Settings and privacy → Privacy and safety → Content you see.

Uncheck the box that says “Display media that may contain sensitive content.”

You will see a warning on photos and videos that are considered sensitive and you’ll have a choice to click to view them. X has more instructions here.

Another option is to stop videos from playing automatically as you scroll.

From, again choose the image of the circle with three horizontal dots in the middle.

Choose Settings and Support → Settings and privacy → Accessibility, display and languages → Data usage → Autoplay. Select “Never” to stop videos from playing automatically as you scroll.



You can mute notifications for a WhatsApp group, which means you won't be alerted to new messages. You can resume notifications later if you choose. WhatsApp has instructions here.

You can also block individuals in your group chat or report material in the group to WhatsApp if you believe it is inappropriately violent or manipulated information. Those instructions are here.

Or you can leave a WhatsApp group. If you do so, only the administrators of that group chat are notified.

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