Meta, the parent company of popular social media platforms Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger, has announced the introduction of new parental control tools today. These tools aim to provide enhanced safety measures and privacy controls for teenagers using these platforms. The new features include a parental supervision hub in Messenger, preemptive blocking of unwanted direct messages (DMs) on Messenger and Instagram, and reminders for teens to take breaks from screen time.
The Messenger supervision controls will be accessible through Meta’s Family Center and will initially roll out in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. These controls allow guardians to view their teens’ privacy and safety settings, changes in their Messenger contact list, and the amount of time spent in the app. Guardians will also receive notifications when a teen reports someone; however, the teen must explicitly grant permission for this notification to be sent.
Parents will have the ability to manage settings such as who can message their teens, including options such as only friends, friends of friends, or no one. They can also control who can view their teens’ stories. Guardians will be alerted if any of these settings are modified by their child.
In recent years, Instagram has implemented several measures to limit teen interactions with unknown adults. In its latest move, the platform will prompt individuals who are not connected with a user to send an invitation asking for permission to interact. These invitations will be text-only and limited to one at a time.
To encourage responsible usage and reduce prolonged screen time, Instagram is introducing controls that prompt users to take breaks. Earlier this year, the platform introduced “Quiet mode,” which allowed users to pause notifications and auto-reply to DMs when they wanted to take a break. Today, Instagram announced the global rollout of “Quiet mode.” Furthermore, Meta is extending the break reminder feature to Facebook, notifying users after 20 minutes of usage to take a break. Teens watching Reels at night will also receive notifications to close the app.
Meta is also introducing a notice on Instagram that allows teens to enable guardian supervision for added protection. Parents can now view mutual connections for the accounts their teen follows or accounts that follow them.
Earlier this year, Meta introduced control over ad targeting for teens on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, the company backed a tool that allows minors to prevent their intimate images from being posted online. However, the company has continued to serve ads to teens. Last year, Meta faced a fine of over $400 million for violating GDPR rules related to children’s privacy. With the introduction of these new parental control tools, Meta aims to provide a safer and more secure online environment for teenage users of its platforms.