Instagram and Messenger’s new parental controls allow parents to see how their kids use the apps

Leonard Sengere Avatar
Instagram teen mental health

We have talked about this a lot. The smartphone presents a very useful tool for the child still in school but at the same time a potent time-wasting tool.

You know that kids need smartphones and you know that they have to be on social media. You can fight this but it’s a losing battle. So, the best thing you can do is monitor just how your child (or nephew/niece) uses their phone.

There is now indisputable evidence that Instagram is not really good for kids, teens especially. More so, teen girls.

Meta themselves (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) found that Instagram is detrimental to kids’ mental health. It leads to anxiety and depression in both boys and girls, although it’s worse for girls. Good luck trying to stop them using it though.

Meta has known this for years but is now introducing features that let parents peek into what their children are doing on Messenger and Instagram. Anyone under 18 is considered a child.

Parental controls

Meta has been adding parental controls over the years, some of which you might not be familiar with. There are some new ones rolling out globally right now. Here are a few of the features:

Daily time limits: Parents can set daily time limits for their teens’ use of Instagram and Messenger. This can help to prevent teens from spending too much time on the apps and can also help them to develop healthy digital habits.

Viewing teen’s activity: Parents can view their teen’s activity on Instagram and Messenger, including the accounts they follow, the posts they like, and the comments they make. This can help parents to keep an eye on what their teens are doing on the apps and to identify any potential problems. Do note that you won’t be able to read messages though.

Getting notifications: Parents will receive notifications if their teen reports someone on Instagram or Messenger, if they block someone, or if they change their privacy settings. This can help parents to stay up-to-date on their teen’s activity and to intervene if necessary.

Specific to Instagram

  • If your kid does not follow a person, they will not be able to tag your kid on their posts
  • If your kid does not follow a person who is over 19, they will not be able to tag your kid private messages
  • People who don’t follow your kid must send an invite to get permission to connect. The invite to connect cannot be a photograph, video, or call-based. Also, only one invite can be sent at a time, until it’s accepted, nothing else can be sent.

Messenger

Parents can see contact lists, who messages their kid, how much time is spent in the app and who can see Messenger stories.

You have to try these out

If you are a guardian over an under-19 human you just have to try these parental controls. It’s the least you can do.

To set up parental controls on Instagram, parents can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Instagram app and go to their profile.
  2. Tap the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Supervision.
  5. Tap Get started.
  6. Enter their teen’s Instagram username and tap Send invite.
  7. Their teen will receive an invite to enable parental supervision. Once they have enabled it, parents will be able to view their activity and set controls.

You may not see Supervision settings in Messenger. They will be rolling out to you soon.

Do note though that there are ways to get around some of these controls. For the best results, you will need your kid to cooperate. Your kid could give you access to an account whilst they have a different account you don’t know about for example.

It remains that no controls are good enough to counter bad parenting or a rebellious teen. However, do remember that you still have the option to exert control over the whole device and not just the Meta apps.

We talked about that here: Here is how you control how your child uses their smartphone, these parental controls are great.

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8 comments

  1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    The ability to supervise helps but, I think it’s only useful if they aren’t aware of it. Otherwise, you’ll see what they want you to see most of the time. If you are a house of bible bangers, the child will post a plethora of bible verses everyday and you will be happy, not knowing that they have a secret account (or some other work around).

    It’s better than nothing I guess. Though it’s better to monitor the device, than specific apps.

    1. Isaac

      Yep! That’s exactly what they’ll do, right under your nose 😸

    2. Fanny

      I’m with you on that one.

  2. Isaac

    Cool. I can’t wait to see the Threads app – I understand that people will want to test it especially after the introduction of rate limiting on Twitter (idk if it’s still enabled but I’m assuming so) but it’s not a big deal to me (Insta ain’t a big deal to me tbh).

    And does anyone know when the match will take place, Elon has been exercising && practicing a lot lately.

    1. Fanny

      Guys u are playing in fact we are playing, children of these days mmmmmm ameno pamwe ndini ndega I don’t think kuti zvinoshanda Isaac what’s your take on my comment coz mwana anogona kuisa ese ma IG muphone make one ye disguys inenge ichipostwa zva Mwari like Imi vanhu musadaro says then yake yaanenge achiita yaanoda irimo futi inogona kuitwa hide muphone imomo soo. I don’t know to u guys what’s your take on that one.

  3. Roblox is sus

    I fear it’s too late for my little nephews. They thought I was too ‘old’ or stupid to understand their secret code words like ‘corn’ and no context mentions of ‘9 inches’ and the like. Doesn’t help that when their folks aren’t around they also talk like little followers of Tate or other Tate tainted influencers. How do I even bring it up to their Mom?😅 I blame Roblox

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