The internet has made it possible for anyone to bypass simple restrictions to open malicious content. While social media typically restricts such content from entering, people still manage to put questionable content online. As a result, young teenagers are exposed to malicious content.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and owner of Instagram, recently launched parental controls on the latter three days ago to create a safer online experience for teens.
The measures have added features that have been available in the United States since March, including setting daily time limits and parents putting in requests to be supervisors.
Experts and advocates for online safety welcomed the new policies as it helps protect the youth on Instagram, an app nearly every pre-teen has on their phones. However, they also pointed out the limitations of the features.
Priya Kumar, an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, emphasized the importance of platforms taking responsibility for their services and products’ effects on users.
“Developing features to help teens and other people manage their use of the app is helpful,” she shared. “But the features on their own, of course, aren’t going to resolve these complex issues.”
Assistant professor in computer science of engineering at the University of Minnesota Stevie Chancellor chimed in, saying that the power given to parents in managing and using Instagram is a step in the right direction.
Instagram is also adding “nudges” to encourage teens to switch to a new topic if they’re repeatedly searching for the same type of content on the platform. Meta explained that the feature encourages teens to explore new things.
“We designed this new feature because research suggests that nudges can be effective for helping people — especially teens — be more mindful of how they’re using social media in the moment,” Meta said in a blog post. “In an external study on the effects of nudges on social media use, 58.2% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that nudges made their social media experience better by helping them become more mindful of their time on-platform.”
Meta is also opening doors for young creators with funding and education to get them to share more inspirational content on Instagram. The creators will also receive guidance from experts who can educate them on creating responsible content online.