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Instagram launches range of powerful new parental controls

Instagram launches powerful new parental controls TODAY – find out what it means for users and why one expert calls them ‘public relations measures’

  • Social media giant Instagram has launched a new suite of parental controls
  • Parents will be able to see who is interacting with their child in weekly reports 
  • They will also be able to see how much time they scroll and set limits
  • But there’s a catch, both the parent and child must agree to switch on features
  • Critics said the features sound good PR-wise but are not in-depth safety tools 

Instagram will roll out new family controls that will allow parents to check how much time their kids spend scrolling and safeguard who they’re chatting with. 

The social media giant’s new suite of supervision features are live from Wednesday and aim to get parents more switched on to their child’s social media activity.

Guardians will be able to see who follows their children, get weekly reports on new connections, and set time limits on how much time they spend on Instagram.

They will also receive a notification when their teen reports an account or piece of content, and their child will have the option to leave notes to their parents on why the account was reported, in a bid to start healthy conversations.

Instagram has implemented a suite of new parental controls from Wednesday but both kids and parents need to agree to switch them on (stock image) 

Meta, the company which owns Instagram and Facebook, also plans to provide links to anti-bullying, mental health and eating disorder resources after reports are made.

Instagram will also augment its Take A Break nudge to prompt teens to move onto different topics if they repeatedly look at the same content on the explore page.

But there is one caveat, the tools will only become available to a parent if the teen and the parent mutually agree.

The new family-friendly tools arrive several months after Meta announced it was halting development of an Instagram for kids specifically aimed at those under 13. 

Mia Garlick, Director of Policy at Meta ANZ, said the company does ‘recognise’ it has a responsibility to protect younger users.

‘Our intention for these resources is to strike the right balance for young people’s desire for some autonomy when using Instagram, but also allows for supervision in a way that supports conversations between parents and young people when it is helpful,’ she said.

She said social media is critical to the way teens communicate, and this only increased during Covid.

‘Teens often self-supervise because they’re sort of concerned that the oldies don’t really get it. They’re worried that there’ll be over-concern about some of the content or the people that they may interact with or how they interact with them.’

She added their research found safe use needed to be fostered by defining boundaries for teenagers and in some instances a trusted professional may even be needed to intervene to curb social media use.

‘Their safety is of paramount importance to us, and we want them to have an experience that is both fun and safe, and we want to support their parents to assist them in doing this.’

The social media giant paused development a few months ago on an Instagram for kids aimed at under 13-year-olds (stock image)

The social media giant paused development a few months ago on an Instagram for kids aimed at under 13-year-olds (stock image)

Curtin University professor of internet studies Tama Leaver watched the rollout of the suite of parental tools in the US in March and said they are more public relations measure than significant safety features. 

‘We have to be honest, it’s an incredibly basic tool that relies 100 per cent on a child who enters their date of birth correctly, requesting that their parent supervise them,’ he told The Australian. 

‘Instagram and Meta are doing a big sort of PR spin about how they’re good for children and young people. Obviously, the parent controls form some part of that narrative,’ he said.

Instagram has also launched a Family Centre education hub with resources designed to educate teens about staying safe online.

Resources will be offered by eating disorder charity Butterfly, mental health charity Orygen Youth Health, anti-bullying group Project Rockit, ReachOut and the eSafety Commissioner.


Parents will be able to see who follows their child and get weekly reports about new connections.

They will also be able to monitor how much time their kids spend scrolling and set limits.

A notification will also be sent when their child reports an inappropriate post or account. 

However, for the tools to be switched on both the parent and the child have to agree to enable the features. 

Meta, Instagram’s parent company, will also launch a Family Centre hub that provides resources for staying safe online.