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Instagram Rolls Out Parental Controls

Instagram announced new parental controls for the social media platform on Wednesday, with its head company, Meta, stating that it will be allowing guardians to watch their teenagers’ actions in virtual reality as well.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “The parental controls for Instagram and Meta’s other services will live inside a new website called the Family Center. Along with supervision tools, the hub will include educational resources such as tips for how to talk to your children about social media.”

In a blog post, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri wrote, “[We’re] introducing Family Center, a new place for parents and guardians to access supervision tools and resources from leading experts. Supervision tools are available on Instagram today, and will begin rolling out in VR in May.”

Mosseri called it the “first step in a longer term journey to develop intuitive supervision tools, informed by experts, teens and parents.”

The concept for Family Center, he said, is “to eventually allow parents and guardians to help their teens manage experiences across Meta technologies, all from one central place.”

Instagram will incorporate new supervision tools, which will be made available to parents in the United States today, and coming to the rest of the world in the months ahead.

The tools will let parents and guardians:

  • View how much time their teens spend on Instagram and set time limits.
  • Be notified when their teen shares they’ve reported someone.
  • View and receive updates on what accounts their teens follow and the accounts that follow their teens.

The Journal added, “The tools won’t allow parents to see posts their teens like or comment on, direct messages they send and receive, or content they are viewing. Instagram also isn’t enacting an age-verification tool, which would make it more difficult for children under age 13 to join the app.”

At this time, teenagers will have to start the supervision in the app on phones, and the company plans to include the ability for parents to start supervision in the app, as well as on desktops, in June. If a guardian or parent asks for supervision, a teen still has to approve it.

“Over the next few months we’ll add additional features, including letting parents set the hours during which their teen can use Instagram and the ability for more than one parent to supervise a teen’s account,” Mosseri added in the blog post.

The company is also planning to start incorporating VR parental supervision devices.

“As a first step to giving people more customized control over their VR experience, we’ll expand the functionality of our existing unlock pattern on Quest headsets, starting in April. This will allow parents to prevent teens 13+ from accessing experiences they feel aren’t age-appropriate by using an Unlock Pattern to lock access to those apps,” the post explained. “And in May, we’ll start automatically blocking teens 13+ from downloading IARC rated age-inappropriate apps.”

“Encouraging informed parental engagement in their children’s digital presence is an important way to support young people’s wellness online. Parents can model and mentor the use of these powerful tools for their children, engaging in these spaces alongside their children to provide opportunities for learning,” Dr. Michael Rich, Director and Founder at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Digital Wellness Lab, said, per the blog post. “Parents can support and monitor their children’s gradual increase in independence as they demonstrate responsible and safe use, with respect for others and for themselves. By engaging parents as co-learners with their children, we can support their parenting in the digital ecosystem in ways consistent with their parenting in the physical world, setting their children up for long-term physical, mental, and social wellness.”

“We’re happy to see the new tools Meta is launching to support parents in helping their children navigate the various social apps. Our research shows that regular parental supervision and co-participation is the best way to inoculate kids from the worst aspects of the internet. We’re hopeful that parents will take advantage of these new resources, and will continue to collaborate with Meta in their efforts to make their products safer and more enjoyable for families,” Justin Patchin, Co-founder and Co-director at Cyberbullying Research Center, said, per the post.

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