Instagram to launch first parental controls following controversy

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Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, announced more details about Meta’s effort to protect teens and support parents online. This comes after the “Instagram for kids” controversy and by the fact the US Congress is going to hear him about it this week.

In this blog post, Mosseri said he would like to “clarify some of the work that we’ve been doing for a long time, and also lay out a few new things that we’ve been developing to meaningfully improve the experience on Instagram for teens, parents, and guardians.”

According to the head of Instagram, starting in March, parents and guardians will be able to view how much time their teens spend on the app and set limits. Instagram will also give teens a new option to notify their parents if they report someone.

Another feature being developed is a new educational hub for parents and guardians “that will include additional resources, like product tutorials and tips from experts, to help them discuss social media use with their teens.”

While these features are still coming in a few months from now, Instagram is launching today ‘Take a Break.” With that, teenager users will be prompted to take a break from Instagram whether they are scrolling for a while on the platform. The app will also suggest that they set reminders to take more breaks in the future.

To make sure that teens are aware of this feature, we’ll show them notifications suggesting they turn these reminders on. We’re encouraged to see that teens are using Take A Break. Early test results show that once teens set the reminders, more than 90% of them keep them on. We’re launching this feature in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand today, and we’ll bring it to everyone by early next year. 

From now on, Instagram will also test a new experience for people to see and manage their activity on the app starting in January.

We know that as teens grow up, they want more control over how they show up both online and offline so, for the first time, they will be able to bulk delete content they’ve posted like photos and videos, as well as their previous likes and comments. While available to everyone, I think this tool is particularly important for teens to more fully understand what information they’ve shared on Instagram, what is visible to others, and to have an easier way to manage their digital footprint.

Understanding Instagram for kids controversy

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Although it’s a good sign that Instagram is bringing so many options for parents, guardians, and teens, the app had to be pushed to introduce them, as specialists and the society overall were unhappy with the company plan’s to target young teens with a new app.

It all started in March after Buzzfeed reported that Facebook – now Meta – was working on a new version of the popular photo social network targeted at children under the age of 13. After that, some organizations have criticized the company for trying to create an Instagram for kids.

Then, in September, Facebook decided to pause its Instagram for kids project and build new parental supervision tools. Later, in November, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, had agreed to testify before Congress after this controversy.

He will be heard by Senator Richard Blumenthal at the consumer protection subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce Committee this week. Blumenthal said:

“He’s the top guy at Instagram, and the whole nation is asking about why Instagram and other tech platforms have created so much danger and damage by driving toxic content to children with these immensely powerful algorithms,” said Mr. Blumenthal, who chairs the subcommittee. “The hearing will be critically significant in guiding us to develop laws that can have an impact on making platforms safer.”

What do you think of these changes Instagram is implementing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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