Meta announced today that it is rolling out new tools on Instagram and Quest VR headsets designed to give parents additional supervisory controls. On Instagram, parents and guardians can now send invitations to their teens to launch monitoring tools. Before this change, only teens could send invites. Parents and guardians can now also set specific times during the day or week when they want to limit their teen’s Instagram use.
With this new update, parents and guardians will also be able to see more information when their teen reports an account or message, including who was reported and the type of report. Meta notes that if you’ve already set up controls on Instagram in the United States, these updates are now available.
These tools are rolling out to other countries starting this month, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Canada, France, and Germany. Meta plans to roll out the tools globally before the end of the year.
In addition to the new parental controls, Instagram is introducing nudges that encourage teens to switch topics if they repeatedly view the same type of content on the Discover page. Meta says the new nudge is designed to encourage teens to explore something new and “rule out certain topics that could be related to outward comparison.”
“We designed this new feature because research shows that nudges can be effective in helping people – especially teenagers – be more aware of how they are currently using social media,” Meta said in a blog post. “In an external survey of the effects of nudges on social media use, 58.2% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that nudges enhanced their social media experience by helping them become more aware of their time on the platform.”
The company notes that its own research, based on a week-long trial, found that one in five teens who saw the new nudges switched to another topic.
Last year, Instagram introduced a “Take a Break” feature to remind users to take time off Instagram. Now Instagram is going to launch new reminders for teens to turn on Take a Break when they’ve been scrolling for a while in Reels, Instagram’s TikTok clone. These are now being tested in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and will launch in those and other countries later this summer.
In addition, Meta says it empowers young creators through funding and education to share more content on Instagram that inspires teens and supports their well-being. These creators receive guidance from experts who show them ways to create responsible online content.
Today’s announcement comes as Meta launched a new set of tools on Instagram in March designed to protect young users. The company introduced something it calls “Family Center,” a centralized hub of safety tools that parents can tap into to control what kids can see and do in the company’s apps.
As for Quest headsets, Meta announced today that it now allows parents and guardians to approve the purchase of an app by their teen that is blocked by default based on the IARC classification. Teens aged 13 and over can submit a ‘Ask to Buy’ request, which triggers a notification to their parent. The parent can then approve or deny the request from within the Oculus mobile app.
Parents can now also block specific apps, preventing the teen from launching them. Apps that can be blocked include apps such as web browsers and apps available in the Quest Store. In addition, parents can view all the apps their teen owns and receive “purchase notifications” when their teen has made a purchase. Parents can now also access their teen’s list of Oculus friends, along with information about how much time their teen spends in VR. In order for parents to link to their teen’s account, the teen must initiate the process. From there, both the parent and teen have to agree.
Meta is also launching a new “Parent Education Hub,” which will include a guide to the company’s parental control tools, along with ways to help parents discuss virtual reality with their teens. Meta notes that this is just a starting point and that it will continue to grow over time and develop its parents’ surveillance controls.
Quest’s new parental controls come a few months after Meta announced it would be adding basic parental controls to its VR headset. Parental controls are ultimately only effective if parents and teens use them properly, but rolling out these features is the least Meta can do.