These tools are designed to help teens stay safe and healthy online.
At long last, parents and guardians can now get better insight into their teens’ social media—at least for Messenger and Instagram. Starting Tuesday, Meta is launching a set of Parental Supervision tools to better aid with controlling usage of both apps.
In Meta’s post announcing the new features, the company outlined several ways for parents to track and understand their kids’ habits on Messenger. For starters, you’ll now be able to see how much time a teen spends on Messenger. You can also see their contact list, privacy and safety settings, who can view their Messenger stories, and who can message them (i.e., friends, friends of friends, or nobody) as well as get notifications when changes to those settings occur. If a teen allows, you’ll get alerts if they report someone, too. Parents will remain unable to read their teen’s messages.
These tools are available now in the US, UK, and Canada, with Meta saying worldwide expansion will happen “in the coming months.” Further time and interaction Parental Supervision management tools should arrive over the next year, and will work in both unencrypted and end-to-end encrypted messages.
Instagram is also getting more parental control tools. Guardians will now be able to see the accounts their teen follows and is followed by, as well as how many friends they have in common with them. Behind the scenes, Meta is adding additional barriers to keep sketchy adults from contacting minors. An invite to connect must first be sent before a private message (much less photos, videos, or calls) can be sent—and only one invitation can be sent. This move builds on top of Instagram’s previous restrictions, which prevented people over 19 from messaging younger teens who don’t follow them.
These safety features for Messenger and Instagram are joined by a set aimed at boosting mental health. Facebook is getting Instagram’s Take A Break feature, which encourages users to stop using the app and establish daily limits. For its part, Instagram will begin suggesting that teens close the app if scrolling through Reels at night. (In fairness, there are a lot of adults who could use that latter feature, too.) To get a walkthrough of these features, or to learn more about others, you can visit Meta’s Family Center page.