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Instagram’s promised parental controls arrive in the US

Allowing parents and guardians to keep a watchful eye

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Instagram’s parental control features in action.
Image: Meta

Instagram’s new parental controls, announced in December, are launching today in the US. The service’s head, Adam Mosseri, refers to them as the company’s “first set” of parental supervision tools, allowing parents and guardians to view and set limits on the amount of time their teens are spending on Instagram, get updates on which accounts they’re following and being followed by, and receive notifications when they report another user.

The controls are being introduced after the Meta-owned social network came under fire for its impact on younger users. Leaked internal research from the company suggests that Instagram usage has detrimental effects on the mental health of its younger users, particularly teenage girls. Shortly after the research was made public, the company announced it was pausing work on a version of Instagram aimed at children under the age of 13. It also rolled out a feature that encouraged users to take a break from the app after set periods of time.

For now, Instagram says teens themselves will need to initiate the supervision feature from its app on mobile devices, but in June, it’s rolling out the ability for parents and guardians to start the process (although teens will still need to grant permission). Additional features, like being able to set specific times when a teen can use Instagram, are also on the way.

Instagram’s tools are part of a wider push from Meta to offer more support to parents and guardians concerned about their teens’ use of its products. Today, it’s also launching a new Family Center, which the company says will eventually offer a one-stop shop for accessing supervision tools across all of Meta’s products. It features an education hub, which offers advice articles, videos tutorials, and tips on how to talk to teens about social media.

Parent Dashboard in the Oculus mobile app
Parent Dashboard in the Oculus mobile app
Image: Meta

As well as Instagram, Meta is also launching new parental controls for its Quest VR headsets. From next month, guardians will be able to lock specific apps to prevent teenagers from accessing age-inappropriate content. Then, in May, children between the ages of 13 and 17 will be blocked from downloading age-inappropriate apps from the Quest Store, although parents and guardians will be able to override this on an app-by-app basis.

A Parent Dashboard in the Oculus mobile app will also offer additional VR supervision features like the ability to proactively block apps such as web browsers, view all the apps owned by their teenager, receive purchase notifications, view and manage screen time, and view their teenager’s friend list. Meta says its headsets aren’t appropriate for users under the age of 13.

Although Instagram’s supervision tools are launching in the US today, Mosseri says they’ll be rolling out globally in the coming months.