New safeguards and monitoring features are being added by Meta for teens across all of its social media platforms, including parental controls on Messenger, advice to take a break from Facebook after 20 minutes, and nudges to young Instagram users who stay up late to stop scrolling.
The features were recently unveiled as lawmakers put more pressure on Meta and other social media platforms to address the effects that their services have on younger users, who can be as young as 13 when they sign up for Meta’s apps.
Parental control features similar to those previously present on Instagram are now available in Messenger, Meta’s instant messaging service: Parents and guardians can check and receive updates on their children’s contact list, see how much time their children spend using the chat feature, and be notified if their children report someone. If their accounts are synchronized, another new feature allows parents and teenagers to communicate directly through notifications.
In an interview with Diana Williams, who oversees product changes for youth and families at Meta, Diana said “We heard from parents and teens about the value they’re seeing from how a two-way dialogue can foster and encourage discussions.” After 20 minutes, Facebook will begin to urge teen users to take a break from the app.
Instagram is introducing a new nudge that informs teenagers to quit the app if they spend too much time watching Reels videos at night. The initiative improves on already-existing Instagram features like Quiet Mode, which briefly disables notifications and notifies others when you’re attempting to stay focused.
Additionally, Instagram is testing a feature that minimizes how users can engage with users who are not followers. Users must now issue an invitation to connect with someone if they are not already followers. Until the recipient accepts their invitation, users are unable to call, send voicemails, images, or videos, or send text messages. According to the company, the tool attempts to reduce the amount of unwelcome content from strangers, especially for women.
The company claims that it’s also adopting a “stricter approach” when it comes to the content it suggests to kids and will intentionally keep them away from certain topics if they have been focusing on them for an extended period of time, such as architecture and travel locations.
Facebook and Messenger have undergone a few changes up until this point. However, Facebook does provide a Safety Center that offers information and tools for supervision, including articles and guidance from top experts.