Meta’s adding some new parental supervision tools on Messenger and Instagram, as well as some new notifications to help limit overuse of its apps, with a focus on younger audiences in particular, and avoiding harm and unwanted attention across its messaging features.
First off, Meta’s adding new parental supervision tools on Messenger, which will enable parents to see how much time their kids are spending in the app, as well as who their contacts are, and who can view their teen’s messages and Stories.
The new tools, available via Meta’s Family Center, will not enable parents to read their child’s actual messages, but they will provide more oversight into who they’re engaging with, and how others are accessing their messages.
Parents will also be able to get notifications if their child reports somebody, or if their teen changes their messaging settings.
The features will add another layer of assurance for parents, and enable them to keep better tabs on what exactly their kids are doing in the app, which could help avoid unwanted attention, and address potential misuse.
Meta’s also adding new Parental Supervision tools on Instagram, as another way to stay across your child’s digital interactions and activity.
The new Instagram features will enable parents to get notified whenever their child blocks someone in the app, as well as oversight into how many friends their teen has in common with the other accounts that they follow and engage with.
Along similar lines, Meta’s also testing new messaging privacy features on Instagram, including updated permissions for sending DMs, and limits on message requests and invites.
The updates will help to combat unsolicited messages in the app, by giving each user more control over the types of DMs they receive.
Finally, Meta’s also looking to help younger users better manage their time in its apps, with the addition of new alerts when they’ve spent 20 minutes on Facebook, prompting them to take time away from the app.
As you can see in this example, the new Facebook ‘nudges’ will alert young users to the amount of time they’ve spent in the app, and prompt them to set up daily limits to avoid overuse.
Meta added similar nudges on Instagram back in 2021, in response to concerns about the potential negative impacts of Instagram use, particularly on younger audiences. Though it’s only the actual alerts that are new – both Facebook and Instagram have had time limit reminders available to users since 2018, so functionally, you’ve been able to set up these types of restrictions for years. But this adds a new type of alert in-stream, which could help to raise awareness of such.
Meta says that it’s also exploring a new alert on Instagram that suggests teens close the app if they’re scrolling Reels at night.
These are important updates, particularly given the mounting evidence pointing to the dangers of social media use for youngsters, and the impacts that social media connection can have on more vulnerable users.
Which is also why we need to take more care in the implementation and rollout of VR, and protecting youngsters in this more immersive interactive environment. Meta recently announced that it’ll now allow kids under the age of 13 to use VR, which it’s long restricted, and it’s changes like this that should come under more scrutiny, given the damage and risks we’ve seen in teen social media use.
Rolling out safety updates in retrospect is important, but we should also be looking to get ahead of similar risks in future, rather than dealing with the consequences at a later date.
You can read more about Meta’s latest parental supervision updates here.