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Instagram and Messenger parental controls now show way more about what kids are up to

Instagram and Messenger parental controls now show way more about what kids are up to


Parents can easily see how much time their teen is spending on Messenger.

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Image of Meta’s logo with a red and blue background.
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Meta is launching a suite of new parental controls for both Instagram and Messenger, the company announced on Tuesday. The new tools give parents the ability to see how much time their child is spending on Messenger, as well as gain more insight into how well their teen really knows the people they’re following on Instagram (and who follows them).

The company says parents and guardians can now check into their child’s Messenger contacts list, along with their privacy and safety settings from the Meta Family Center. Parents will also get notified if their child reports someone on the app — so long as their teen enabled that setting, in addition to seeing who can and can’t message them.

Image: Meta

On Instagram, parents can expect similar updates. That includes a new way to see how many friends their child has in common with whoever they’re following, along with whoever follows them. This could help parents monitor whether their teen is in contact with strangers. Meta says teens will also now receive a prompt when they block someone, which will suggest allowing a parent to supervise their accounts.

In addition to these features, Meta is testing a new safeguard for its messaging system on Instagram. If a user wants to message someone that doesn’t follow them on the app, they would have to ask for their permission to connect with them. Meta is also trying out a new notification on Instagram that recommends that teens close the app if they’re browsing through Reels at night.

Image: Meta

As concerns grow over the effect that social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have on their young users, Meta has been rolling out more robust parental controls and safety features for its family of apps. Some of those include Quiet Mode on Instagram, notifications that steer kids away from content they continuously look at on the app, and features to keep adults out of minors’ DMs.