Meta tightens up parental controls on Instagram

Meta is tightening up its Facebook Messenger and Instagram platforms, installing parental supervision and blocks on unsolicited messages and pictures. The move comes amid growing concerns about social media technology’s impact on child health.

Under measures announced by Meta on June 27th, parents will be able to monitor how much time their teenage children spend on Messenger and receive updates on their contact lists. However, the new tool introduced by the tech giant does not allow parents to read their children’s messages.

Instagram has also been modified to address concerns of parents, who will now be able to see how many friends their children have on the app.

“We’ve added additional tools to Parental Supervision on Instagram to give parents more visibility into their teens’ experiences on the app and to prompt teens to have conversations with their parents with new notifications,” said Meta.

These include a notice automatically sent by the platform to a teenage user after they block someone, advising them to keep their parents or guardian in the loop and inform them of the development.

“Through this notice, we’re meeting teens at specific moments to remind them how they can benefit from parental guidance when it comes to navigating their online interactions,” said Meta.

Clamping down on unwanted pics

Likewise, anyone messaging somebody that does not already follow them on Instagram will have first to seek permission to connect — Meta hopes this will spell an end to unwanted or inappropriate content being sent to its platforms’ users.

“We’ll limit these message request invites to text only, so people can’t send any photos, videos, or voice messages, or make calls, until the recipient has accepted the invite to chat,” said Meta. “These changes mean people won’t receive unwanted photos, videos, or other types of media from people they don’t follow.”

Meta will also introduce limits on how many requests a user can send, with only one at a time allowed until a request to connect has been accepted.

The tech giant did not make it clear whether this restriction lifts after a certain period of time in cases where the request is ignored or rejected, but added “there is a limit to the number of conversations you can start every 24 hours with people who don’t follow you.”

And in an apparent effort to answer complaints from parents that their children are spending too much time on their devices, especially at night when they are alone in their bedrooms unsupervised, Meta has also installed pop-up features aimed at encouraging teens to put the smartphone down.

“We want teens to feel good about the time they spend on our apps, which is why we’ve built features like Take a Break on Instagram,” said Meta. “Soon, teens will also see a notification when they’ve spent 20 minutes on Facebook, prompting them to take time away from the app and set daily time limits.”

The tech giant added that it is also exploring “a new nudge on Instagram” that will suggest teens close the app if they are scrolling photo reels at night.

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