Meta, the parent company of popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, is taking steps to address concerns over the impact of its platforms on younger users. With the introduction of new safeguards and monitoring tools, Meta aims to provide parents with more visibility into their teens’ online activities and promote healthier digital habits. These new features come in response to heightened pressure from lawmakers and concerns raised by leaked internal documents about the potential negative effects of social media on the mental health of young users.

One of the key updates is the addition of parental supervision tools on Messenger, Meta’s instant messaging app. Similar to the existing tools on Instagram, parents and guardians will now have the ability to monitor their teens’ usage of the chat tool. They can track the amount of time their teens spend on Messenger, view and receive updates on their contacts list, and even receive notifications if their teen reports someone. This new feature aims to provide parents with a better understanding of their teens’ online interactions and help them address any potential concerns.

To promote healthier usage of its flagship platform, Meta will now nudge teen users to take breaks from Facebook after 20 minutes. This feature aims to encourage teens to step away from the app and engage in other activities offline. By setting time limits, Meta hopes to strike a balance between digital engagement and real-world interactions, addressing the concerns of excessive screen time and its potential impact on mental well-being.

Recognizing the potential negative impact of excessive scrolling on Instagram, especially during nighttime hours, Meta is introducing a new feature that suggests teens close the app if they’ve been scrolling through Reels videos for too long. This initiative builds upon existing features like Quiet Mode, which temporarily holds notifications and allows users to focus. By reminding teens to take breaks and limit their nighttime usage, Meta aims to promote healthier sleep habits and reduce the potential negative effects of excessive social media engagement.

In addition to promoting healthier usage habits, Meta is also implementing enhanced safety measures on Instagram. The company is testing a feature that limits how users interact with non-followers. Now, users must send an invitation to connect with someone if they’re not already a follower. This feature aims to reduce unwanted content from strangers, particularly targeting the safety of women on the platform. By introducing this new measure, Meta is taking proactive steps to minimize potential risks associated with online interactions.

Acknowledging the potential influence of content consumption on user well-being, Meta is taking a “stricter approach” to the content it recommends to teens. If users spend an excessive amount of time on a specific type of content, Meta will actively nudge them toward different topics, such as architecture and travel destinations. By diversifying content recommendations, Meta aims to provide a more balanced and positive user experience, reducing the potential negative impact of excessive exposure to certain types of content.

Meta understands the importance of supporting parents in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of social media. In addition to the new features and safeguards, Meta has introduced an educational hub for parents on Instagram. This hub provides resources, tips, and articles from experts on user safety. By equipping parents with knowledge and tools, Meta aims to empower them to guide their teens through the digital world and foster open discussions about online safety and responsible online behavior.

First reported on CNN

John Boitnott

John Boitnott is a news anchor at ReadWrite. Boitnott has worked at TV News Anchor, print, radio and Internet companies for 25 years. He's an advisor at StartupGrind and has written for BusinessInsider, Fortune, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and Venturebeat. You can see his latest work on his blog, John Boitnott