The company also plans to launch a suite of tools in March, aimed at giving parents more visibility into their teenagers’ use of the app. Teens will be able to give their parents or guardians permission to view how much time they spend on Instagram and to set time limits, according to the company. Teens also will be able to notify their parents if they report someone for violating the app’s rules.
The platform will then remind users about alternative activities to social media such as going for a walk or taking a series of deep breaths, Instagram head of wellbeing and safety, Vaishnavi J, said in an interview.
“When you’ve been spending a long period of time – 20 minutes for example being a fairly long period of time – it is very valuable for you to then get a little notification reminding you to take a break,” she said. “You may not feel like you’ve been spending that much time on the app because you’ve been doing five or six different things in those 20 minutes.”
Instagram has been under mounting scrutiny over its effects on young users after a Wall Street Journal series earlier this year and other stories from a consortium of media organisations based on internal documents disclosed by Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen. Some of the documents surfaced new revelations about Instagram’s impact on teenagers’ body image, sleep and anxiety.
Instagram said it’s testing a new setting that would limit people from tagging or mentioning teens who don’t follow them or to include their content in video reels. Additionally, the app is exploring more ways to reduce the amount of potentially harmful or sensitive content that teens can discover on its network.
While Instagram and Facebook don’t technically permit users under age 13, Meta had planned to create an Instagram app specifically for preteens that would require parental permission to join, would be free of advertising and would use age-appropriate policies and features.
Meta announced in September it would pause plans to create the kids’ Instagram app, saying it would take more time to discuss its plans with experts, parents and policymakers.