Facebook sister company Instagram introduces parental controls in UK, following backlash over effects of service on young people
Facebook sister company Instagram is to introduce new parental supervision tools for teenagers in the UK, following their introduction in the US earlier this year.
The controls were devised following widespread criticism of the company last year over the platform’s effects on young people.
This was spurred by a Wall Street Journal report that parent company Meta had conducted undisclosed research that found teenagers blamed Instagram for increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
Instagram said the story was based “on a limited set of findings” that cast the company “in a negative light”.
The new tools allow parents to oversee their child’s profile, set daily use limits and see who the child follows and who follows them.
They were introduced in the US in March and are now being expanded to the UK and Ireland for the first time.
Parents will be able to send an invitation to their teenager to initiate supervision of the account, and once this has been accepted the parent can set daily limits and schedule breaks for specific times.
The limits can range from 15 minutes to 2 hours, after which the app displays a black screen.
Previously the controls could only be initiated by the young person.
Parents can see who their child follows and is followed by and receive information on when the teenager reports an account or post on the platform.
They will be able to view a dashboard showing the child’s daily habits on the service.
The supervision features automatically end when the child turns 18, Instagram said.
Parent company Meta is introducing a similar parent dashboard for all Quest virtual reality headsets worldwide.
The VR controls include purchase approval, app blocking and the option to view the child’s friend lists.
The rollout coincides with a new “nudges” feature being tested on Instagram in the UK and Ireland, which displays a notification encouraging them to switch to a different topic if they repeatedly look at the same type of content on the app’s Explore tab.
Instagram said research suggested “nudges can be effective for helping people – especially teens – be more mindful of how they’re using social media in the moment”.
The platform is officially for young people aged 13 and older, while Oculus is also designed for teens and above, although younger children use both platforms.
Last year Instagram abandoned development of a version for children under 13 following a backlash.