To protect its youngest users, Instagram has released new features that address screen time management, safety, digital wellness, and more.
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If you're parenting a teenager, it's inevitable that you'll need to deal with social media platforms like Instagram. At least 72 percent of American teens ages 13 to 17 use the photo-sharing app. And while Instagram has plenty of benefits for young people (such as opportunities to develop social skills and connect with like-minded individuals), it also raises safety concerns.

Parents might worry, for example, that their teenager is exposed to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, or interactions with ill-meaning strangers. Or they might fear that Instagram is detrimental for their mental health and body image—a problem that's been repeatedly found by the social platform, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Instagram claims to recognize these concerns, and they're taking steps to protect their youngest users. In March 2022, they rolled out supervision tools and resources for parents of teens, as well as a new safety hub called "Family Center." These updates are "the first step in a longer term journey to develop intuitive supervision tools, informed by experts, teens and parents," according to Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, in a March 16 blog post.

Keep reading to learn about the latest Instagram safety features—and remember that you must be 13 years or older to use the app.

Education Hub for Parents

Instagram's Family Center includes an education hub, which will be the go-to destination for safety resources. On the education hub, you'll find video tutorials, expert-driven safety guides, and tips for talking to your teen about online safety and digital wellness. To make some of these resources, Instagram collaborated with organizations like The Trevor Project and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Parental Supervision Tools

Instagram's new supervision tools allow parents to become more involved in their teen's social media experience. Here are some of the updated features:

  • Parents and guardians will be able to see how much time their teenager spends on the app, and they can also set screen time limits.
  • When teenagers report someone on Instagram, they have the option to notify their parents. This could spur conversations about internet safety.
  • Parents can keep tabs on which accounts their teen follows, as well as which accounts follow them.

In his statement, Mosseri says that teens currently need to initiate supervision on mobile devices. "We will add the option for parents to initiate supervision in the app and on desktop in June," he says. "Teens will need to approve parental supervision if their parent or guardian requests it." Note that the supervision is removed when a teen turns 18.

These new tools have already rolled out in America, and they'll become available globally within the next few months. In the near future, Instagram plans to expand them; parents will be able to set usage hours for their teens on the social platform, among other things. Learn more about setting up supervision tools here.

Keeping Teen Users Safe on Instagram

Some safety features already exist for young people on Instagram. For example, they automatically get signed up for a private account, which means only followers can view their content. Adults can't directly message teens who aren't following them. And Instagram's "Take a Break" feature encourages users to step away from the app after scrolling for a certain period of time.

"We've been invested in teen well-being for years now," says Vaishnavi J, Head of Safety & Well-Being at Instagram. "We're always iterating on our products—both with feedback from parents and teens, but also from experts."

Mosseri stresses that more will come in the future. "This is just one step on a longer path — our vision for Family Center is to eventually allow parents and guardians to help their teens manage experiences across Meta technologies, all from one central place," he wrote in the blog post.

The Bottom Line

While Instagram's new features help teens stay safe online, it's important for parents to get involved too. "Every parent knows their teen better than we ever could," says Vaishnavi J. Use this knowledge to understand how your child is using the platform, and have conversations about internet safety accordingly.