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Meta are adding more parental controls

AP – Instagram and Facebook’s parent company Meta is adding some new parental supervision tools and privacy features to its platforms as social media companies face increasing scrutiny over their effects on teen mental health.

But many of the features require minors – and their parents – to opt in, raising questions about how effective the measures are.

Instagram will now send a notice to teens after they block someone, encouraging them to let their parents “supervise” their account.

The idea is to grab kids’ attention when they might be more open to parental guidance.

If a teen opts in, the system will let parents set time limits, see who their kid follows or is followed by, and allows them to track how much time the minor spends on Instagram. It does not let parents see message content.

The Meta logo is seen at the Vivatech show in Paris, France. PHOTO: AP

Instagram launched parental supervision tools last year to help families navigate the platform and find resources and guidance. A sticking point in the process is that kids need to sign up if they want parents to supervise their accounts. It’s not clear how many teen users have opted in and Meta has not disclosed any numbers.

By making the feature optional, Meta said it is trying to “balance teen safety and autonomy” as well as prompt conversations between parents and their children.

When families do opt in, supervision allows parents to see how many friends their child has in common with accounts the child follows or is followed by.

If the child is followed by someone none of their friends follow, it could raise a red flag that the teen does not know the person in real life.

This, Meta said, “will help parents understand how well their teen knows these accounts, and help prompt offline conversations about those connections”.

Chief Eexecutive Officer and founder of Common Sense Media Jim Steyer called the news a “smoke screen”.

“None of these new features address the negative impact their business model is having on the well-being of kids, including their mental health. We need national privacy laws to protect kids,” Steyer said in a statement.

The opt-in feature lets parents see how much time their child spends on the messaging service and information such as their contact lists and privacy settings – but not who they are chatting with.