Parents can now see more of what their kids are up to on Messenger and Instagram

Meta is rolling out a bunch of new parental supervision tools to increase safety for teens online.
By Meera Navlakha  on 
Three screenshots of phones displaying Instagram and Messenger.
Credit: Meta.

Meta has released a host of new features to increase parental supervision and elevate safety on its apps, namely Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

On Messenger, parents can now see how their teen uses on the app. This means parents are allowed to view contact lists, who messages their teen, how much time is being spent on Messenger, and who can see Messenger Stories. The teen can also choose whether to allow their parents to see if they have reported someone.

Parents will not be able to read messages, however.

Parental control on Messenger.
Credit: Meta.

The new parental supervision tools on Messenger are now available in the U.S., UK, and Canada. In the coming months, Meta is looking to expand such features in other countries. The company has also compiled resources under the Family Center, which is meant to be a central place for parents to know more about how they can ensure the safety of their children on Meta products.

On Instagram, a bunch of safety features have already been introduced for parents, likely as a result of growing concern about teen wellbeing on the app. In December 2021, Meta announced tools allowing parents to set time constraints and track how long their teens spend on the app. The company also began stopping users from tagging teens if they aren't following them. Similarly, back in 2021, Instagram began restricting people over 19 from sending private messages to teens who do not follow them.

Expanding on these features are new privacy settings for Instagram DMs. Now, people who don't follow teens must send an invite to get permission to connect. Only one invite can be sent at a time and others can't be sent until the recipient accepts said invitation. No photograph, video, or call-based invitations are permitted, making sure no unwanted messaging is made visible to teens.

Meta seems to be making concrete moves towards allowing more visibility and control for parents. Other significant features are being introduced, like allowing parents to support a teen's account if they happen to block someone. Parents can also see how many mutuals their teen has with accounts, in order to tell who the common connections are.

"Today's updates were designed to help teens feel in control of their online experiences and help parents feel equipped to support their teens," reads a statement from Meta. "We’ll continue to collaborate with parents and experts to develop additional features that support teens and their families."

Instagram parental features.
Credit: Meta.

In addition to these safety tools, Meta is building on its existing "Take a Break" feature, which nudges teens towards different topics on Instagram if they dwell on them for too long. The latest update to this is a notification for teens when they spent over 20 minutes on Facebook or if they are scrolling through Reels at night.

Mashable Image
Meera Navlakha
Culture Reporter

Meera is a Culture Reporter at Mashable, joining the UK team in 2021. She writes about digital culture, mental health, big tech, entertainment, and more. Her work has also been published in The New York Times, Vice, Vogue India, and others.

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