Meta's updated parental controls give parents an inside look at who their kids at messaging

The new features will also allow parents to monitor how long their kids spend on social media

As lawmakers and government officials get more serious about kids’ and teens’ social media use, Meta, the home of Facebook and Instagram, is following suit. 

The company announced several new features that give parents more control over their kids’ social media use. While parents won’t be able to see the specifics of their children’s messages, they will be able to get a better idea of how their child uses these social media apps, including how much time is spent on them. 

An inside look at privacy settings

Meta has made adjustments to these new parental control features on both Facebook and Instagram. 

For Facebook, the updates include: 

  • Access and updates on the child’s Messenger’s contact list, privacy settings, and safety settings

  • Access to who can see the child’s Messenger stories and notifications, if settings change

  • Notifications if the child reports someone on Messenger (if the child chooses to share that information with their parent) 

  • Access who can message the child (only their friends, friends of friends, or no one), and get notifications if the child changes that setting

  • Access to the total time spent on the Messenger app

Similarly, on Instagram, the updates include: 

  • Parental notification if the child blocks someone

  • Access to who the child follows and who follows them

  • Access to how many accounts the child has in common with those they’re following and those who follow them

These new parental monitoring tools are currently available in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. While Meta plans to build on these safety features, the goal is to provide more peace of mind for parents and open up the conversation between parents and their kids about their social media use. 

More new features

Another priority with the announcement of these new features is encouraging young people to take periodic breaks from social media. 

Earlier this year, Instagram introduced Quiet Mode, a feature that silences all notifications and changes the status of your profile so others know you’re taking a break. Instagram also has the Take a Break feature, which was designed for parents to monitor how long their children are spending on the app, and creating limits for daily use. 

Meta will soon release a feature that will alert teens when they’ve spent 20 minutes on the Facebook app. As part of the parental controls, parents will also get these insights, and be able to set daily time limits to help make sure their kids are using their social media platforms healthily and responsibly. 

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