Meta Introduces New Safeguards for Parents to Monitor Teen Social Media Activity
In response to growing concerns over the impact of social media on younger users, Meta, the parent company of popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, has announced a series of new features aimed at providing parents with greater visibility into their teenagers’ online activities. The measures include:
- Enhanced parental controls on Messenger.
- Time limit suggestions for Facebook usage.
- Prompts to discourage excessive scrolling on Instagram.
Meta’s move comes amidst mounting pressure from lawmakers regarding the potential adverse effects of social media on teenagers, who are eligible to sign up for Meta’s apps from age 13 onwards. As part of these efforts, Messenger, Meta’s instant messaging app, will now offer parental supervision tools similar to those already available on Instagram. Parents and guardians will have access to information such as how much time their teens spend on the chat tool, updates on their contact lists, and notifications if their teens report any individuals.
Furthermore, a new feature will enable parents and teens to engage in discussions directly through notifications, provided their accounts are synced up. According to Diana Williams, the head of product changes for youth and families at Meta, this feature was developed in response to feedback from parents and teens who value facilitating two-way dialogue.
Meta will introduce prompts on the Facebook platform to encourage teen users to take breaks from the app after 20 minutes of usage. Similarly, Instagram will introduce a nudge that suggests teenagers close the app if they spend excessive time scrolling through Reels videos during nighttime hours. This initiative builds upon existing Instagram features like Quiet Mode, temporarily suspending notifications to help users maintain focus.
Instagram is also testing a new feature that limits interactions with non-followers. Users will now need to send an invitation to connect with someone if they still need to follow them. Until the invitation is accepted, users cannot initiate calls, send photos, videos, voice messages, or make calls. The goal of this feature is to reduce unwanted contact with strangers, with a particular focus on mitigating issues faced by women, according to the company.
These measures represent the latest in a series of tools and safeguards introduced by Meta to protect teenagers following the release of leaked internal documents highlighting the potential negative impact of Instagram on the mental health of its young users. Notably, Instagram has already launched an educational hub for parents, offering resources, tips, and articles from experts on user safety.
Furthermore, Meta has adopted a more stringent approach to teen content recommendations. She will actively encourage them to explore different topics, such as architecture and travel destinations, if they have excessively consumed any specific content.
While Facebook and Messenger have had limited changes in this area thus far, Facebook does provide a Safety Center that offers supervision tools and resources, including articles and advice from leading experts.
As Meta strives to address concerns surrounding the impact of social media on teenagers, these new safeguards and monitoring tools aim to empower parents with increased visibility and control over their teens’ social media interactions, promoting safer and healthier online experiences for younger users.